X-ray technology has long been integral to medical diagnosis and scientific research, providing valuable insights into internal structures and materials. Advancements in X-ray technology have led to the development of brighter, more intense beams capable of imaging complex systems in real-world conditions. To support these advancements, scientists have been actively working on developing X-ray detector materials that can withstand high-energy X-rays from large synchrotrons while maintaining sensitivity and cost-effectiveness.
A team of scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, together with their colleagues, have successfully demonstrated the exceptional performance of a revolutionary new material for detecting high-energy X-ray scattering patterns. This detector material exhibits remarkable endurance under ultra-high X-ray flux and boasts a relatively low cost, making it an ideal candidate for synchrotron-based X-ray research.
During an X-ray scattering experiment, a beam of photons, or light particles, passes through the sample under investigation. The sample then scatters the photons, which subsequently strike the detector material. By analyzing the scattered X-rays, scientists can gain valuable insights into the structure and composition of the sample. However, many existing detector materials cannot handle the wide range of beam energies and enormous X-ray fluxes emitted by large synchrotron facilities. Those that can often come with a high price tag, are challenging to grow, or require extremely low temperatures for optimal performance.
A Unique Approach
Motivated by the need for better detector materials, the research team turned to cesium bromide perovskite crystals. Perovskites possess simple structures with highly tunable properties, making them suitable for a wide range of applications. Two different methods were employed to grow the material: one involved melting and cooling the material to induce crystal formation, while the other utilized a solution-based approach to grow the crystals at room temperature. These methods were conducted in the laboratories of scientists Duck Young Chung and Mercouri Kanatzidis in Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University, respectively.
The scientists assessed the performance of the crystals grown using these two strategies and evaluated their response to a broad range of synchrotron fluxes at beamline 11-ID-B at the Advanced Photon Source (APS). The results were nothing short of astonishing. The material, regardless of the growth method, exhibited exceptional detection capabilities and withstood fluxes up to the limit of the APS without any issues. Compared to conventional detector materials like silicon, this material demonstrated a relatively high density and a unique structure that influenced its electrical properties, leading to improved efficiency and sensitivity.
Unlocking New Possibilities
High-energy X-rays empower researchers to study dynamic systems in real-time, including biological processes in cells and chemical reactions inside engines. The extraordinary detection capabilities of this new material enable researchers to detect even subtle changes during experiments, providing invaluable insights into intricate and rapid activities in various materials. Consequently, this breakthrough paves the way for faster and more detailed studies in a wide range of fields.
As the APS undergoes a major upgrade that will substantially increase the brightness of its beamlines, the need for superior detector materials becomes even more critical. The research team acknowledges the unique capabilities and expertise at Argonne National Laboratory, which played a key role in growing high-quality crystals and further enhancing the material’s performance. Moving forward, the team intends to scale up production and optimize crystal quality. Additionally, they foresee additional applications for this material, such as its potential use in detecting gamma rays at extremely high energies, with support from the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration.
The utilization of X-ray technology has revolutionized the fields of medicine and scientific research. The development of this new X-ray detector material represents a significant breakthrough, offering exceptional performance and endurance under high-energy X-rays. Its relatively low cost and unique properties make it a promising candidate for a broad range of synchrotron-based X-ray research applications. With the ability to detect subtle changes and provide unprecedented insights into various materials and systems, this material opens up new avenues for advanced scientific studies and discoveries.