X-ray technology has revolutionized the field of medicine and scientific research by providing non-invasive medical imaging and insights into various materials. Recent advancements in X-ray technology have allowed for brighter and more intense beams, enabling imaging of intricate systems in real-world conditions such as the internal workings of operating batteries. However, these advancements have also highlighted the need for X-ray detector materials that can withstand the high energy and intensity of these beams while remaining cost-effective and sensitive. Scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory, along with their colleagues, have recently made a breakthrough in this area by developing a new material that demonstrates exceptional performance in detecting high-energy X-ray scattering patterns.
During an X-ray scattering experiment, a beam of photons, or light particles, is directed at a sample of interest. The sample scatters the photons, which then strike a detector material. By analyzing how the X-rays are scattered, scientists can gain valuable insights into the structure and composition of the sample. However, many existing detector materials are not capable of handling the wide range of beam energies and intense X-ray fluxes emitted by large synchrotron facilities. The materials that can withstand such conditions are often expensive, difficult to grow, or require extremely low temperatures. This poses a challenge for researchers who rely on X-ray detectors for their studies.
To address this challenge, the scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory turned their attention to cesium bromide perovskite crystals. Perovskite crystals have simple structures with tunable properties, making them suitable for a range of applications. The team grew these crystals using two different methods: one involved melting and cooling the material to induce crystal formation, while the other used a solution-based approach at room temperature. The crystals grown using both methods showcased exceptional detection capabilities and withstood fluxes up to the limit of the Advanced Photon Source (APS) without any issues.
The newly developed detector material boasts several advantages over conventional materials. Firstly, it has the ability to distinguish small changes, providing greater insight into real materials under real conditions. Its relatively dense structure, compared to materials like silicon, enhances its electrical properties, leading to improved efficiency and sensitivity. These features are especially crucial for studying dynamic systems in real-time, such as biological processes in cells or chemical reactions inside an engine. The detector’s ability to detect subtle changes during experiments allows researchers to obtain valuable insights into intricate and rapid activities in materials, enabling faster and more detailed studies.
The Argonne research team is looking towards the future, with plans to focus on scaling up the production of cesium bromide perovskite crystals and optimizing their quality. The team also envisions additional applications for the material, including its potential use in detecting gamma rays at extremely high energies. Moreover, the ongoing major upgrade of the APS, which will significantly increase the brightness of its beamlines, makes the development of superior detector materials even more crucial.
The breakthrough in X-ray detector materials, demonstrated by the exceptional performance of cesium bromide perovskite crystals, brings new possibilities to the field of high-energy X-ray scattering. With the ability to withstand bright, high-energy X-rays and maintain sensitivity and cost-effectiveness, this new detector material holds promise for a wide range of applications in synchrotron-based X-ray research. As advancements in X-ray technology continue, the development of superior detector materials will enhance our understanding of complex materials and enable us to explore new frontiers in the world of science and medicine.