Environmental Sensing

Research in environmental luminescence focuses primarily on applications in the areas of fluorescence, radiation sensors, radionuclide measurement and radiation dosaging.

Optical dating and luminescence - image courtesy IPAS Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing

Optical dating and luminescence - image courtesy IPAS Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing

The Prescott Environmental Luminescence Laboratory is an interdisciplinary research facility that brings together research expertise from the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing and Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources to conduct research in environmental luminescence.

Research projects in environmental luminescence include:


Novel fluorescence techniques, including up-conversion fluorescence.

These techniques are used for real-time materials and substance detection and characterisation and are applied in mining and mineral processing, and explosives sensing. This research is sponsored by CRC ORE  (Optimising Research Extraction) and also in partnership with the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group) under the Next Generation Technologies Fund  CIT Grand Challenge.

Radiation sensors

Radiation sensor research and development for real-time measurement of radionuclides in mining and mineral processing.

This research includes novel radiation sensitive optical fibre devices and techniques to spatially-resolve, on the micron scale, the location of alpha particle emitters in minerals. This research is sponsored by the ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium. Research is also under way into gamma ray beam imaging for medical applications, using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) crystals.

Radionuclide measurement

Gamma ray spectrometry and alpha particle spectroscopy.

The monitoring and analysis of radionuclide concentrations is an integral part of many dating methods since the deposition and decay of radioactive elements can be tracked as a time-dependent signature.

This allows it to be used to establish the chronology of archaeological and palaeontological sites, and landscape evolution.

This research is also sponsored by the ARC Research Hub for Australian Copper-Uranium.

Radiation dosaging

Measurement of radiation dose and environmental dose-rates.

This work applies optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and thermoluminescence (TL) techniques to natural and artificial materials. It aims to allow their utilisation as environmental radiation dosimeters both for retrospective and forensic dosimetry, and for luminescence dating (optical dating). Key facilities include gamma ray and alpha particle spectrometers, Risoe single-grain OSL readers, the Photon-Counting Imaging System (PCIS), the “3D-TL” Spectrometer, and facilities for luminescence kinetics analysis.

Key contact

For further information contact Prof Nigel Spooner.