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Lithium fluoride crystals have recently been used to register the tracks of nuclear particles. Physicists from the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Cracow have just demonstrated that these crystals are also ideal for detecting tracks of high-energy ions of elements even as heavy as iron.
When a nuclear particle enters into a crystal, it interacts with the atoms or molecules in its crystal network. In certain crystals and under the appropriate conditions, the resulting defect can be a source of weak light—luminescence. At the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IFJ PAN) in Cracow research has been conducted on materials showing this type of properties for many years. One of them is lithium fluoride LiF. Its crystals have recently been used to detect low-energy particles such as alpha particles (helium nuclei). In their latest publication in the Journal of Luminescence, the Cracow-based physicists show that the field of application of lithium fluoride also extends to the detection of particles with significant energies and even includes ions of such heavy elements as iron 56Fe, completely stripped of electrons.
Lithium - Fluoride - Track - Detectors - Crystals
"Lithium fluoride track detectors are simply crystals. Unlike detection devices that monitor near-real time tracks of particles, they are passive detectors. In other words, they work like photographic film. Once crystals are exposed to radiation, we need to use a fluorescence microscope to find out what tracks we have recorded," says Prof. Pawel Bilski (IFJ PAN).
Fluorescent nuclear track detectors have been known for about a decade. So far, they have been made only from appropriately doped Al2O3 aluminium oxide crystals in which, under the influence of radiation, permanent colour centres are created. Such centres, when excited by light of an appropriate wavelength, emit photons (with lower energies) which make it possible to see the track...
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