Hajagos, T.J., Liu, C., Cherepy, N.J. and Pei, Q., High‐Z Sensitized Plastic Scintillators: A Review. Advanced Materials, 30(27), 1706956 (2018). DOI: 10.1002/adma.201706956
The need for affordable and reliable radiation detectors has prompted significant investment in new radiation detector materials, due to concerns about
national security and nuclear nonproliferation. Plastic scintillators provide an affordable approach to large volume detectors, yet their performance for high-energy gamma radiation is severely limited by the small radiation stopping power inherent to their low atomic number. Although some sensitization attempts with organometallics were made in the 1950s to 1960s, the concomitant decrease in light yield has limited the usefulness of these sensitized detectors. Recently, with new knowledge gained during the rapid development of organic optoelectronics and nanotechnology, there has been a revived interest in the field of heavy element sensitized plastic scintillators. Here, the recent efforts on sensitized plastic scintillators are summarized. Basic scintillator physics is first reviewed. The discussion then focuses on two major thrusts in the field: sensitization with: (1) organometallics and (2) oxide and fluoride nanoparticles. The design rationales and major results are examined in detail, with existing limitations and possible future pathways discussed. Special attention is paid to the underlying energy deposition and transfer processes, as these determine the key performance metrics such as light yield and radioluminescence decay lifetime.