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A general framework for scintillation in nanophotonics

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Version 2 2023-06-08, 12:49
Version 1 2023-01-12, 14:16
posted on 2023-06-08, 12:49 authored by Charles Roques-Carmes, Nicholas Rivera, Ali Ghorashi, Steven E. Kooi, Yi Yang, Zin Lin, Justin Beroz, Aviram Massuda, Jamison Sloan, Nicolas Romeo, Yang Yu, John D. Joannopoulos, Ido Kaminer, Steven G. Johnson, Marin Soljačić
Bombardment of materials by high-energy particles (e.g., electrons, nuclei, X- and $\gamma$-ray photons) often leads to light emission, known generally as scintillation. Scintillation is ubiquitous and enjoys widespread applications in many areas such as medical imaging, X-ray non-destructive inspection, night vision, electron microscopy, and high-energy particle detectors. A large body of research focuses on finding new materials optimized for brighter, faster, and more controlled scintillation. Here, we develop a fundamentally different approach based on integrating nanophotonic structures into scintillators to enhance their emission. To start, we develop a unified and ab initio theory of nanophotonic scintillators that accounts for the key aspects of scintillation: the energy loss by high-energy particles, as well as the light emission by non-equilibrium electrons in arbitrary nanostructured optical systems. This theoretical framework allows us, for the first time, to experimentally demonstrate nearly an order-of-magnitude enhancement of scintillation, in both electron-induced, and X-ray-induced scintillation. Our theory also allows the discovery of structures that could eventually achieve several orders-of-magnitude scintillation enhancement. The framework and results shown here should enable the development of a new class of brighter, faster, and higher-resolution scintillators with tailored and optimized performances - with many potential applications where scintillators are used.



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