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Radiat Meas. 2007 Jul 1;42(6):1256-1260.

Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) of dental enamel for retrospective assessment of radiation exposure.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.


This paper briefly reviews the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) properties of dental enamel and discusses the potential and challenges of OSL for filling the technology gap in biodosimetry required for medical triage following a radiological/nuclear accident or terrorist event. The OSL technique uses light to stimulate a radiation-induced luminescence signal from materials previously exposed to ionizing radiation. This luminescence originates from radiation-induced defects in insulating crystals and is proportional to the absorbed dose of ionizing radiation. In our research conducted to date, we focused on fundamental investigations of the OSL properties of dental enamel using extracted teeth and tabletop OSL readers. The objective was to obtain information to support the development of the necessary instrumentation for retrospective dosimetry using dental enamel in laboratory, or for in situ and non-invasive accident dosimetry using dental enamel in emergency triage. An OSL signal from human dental enamel was detected using blue, green, or IR stimulation. Blue/green stimulation associated with UV emission detection seems to be the most appropriate combination in the sense that there is no signal from un-irradiated samples and the shape of the OSL decay is clear. Improvements in the minimum detection level were achieved by incorporating an ellipsoidal mirror in the OSL system to maximize light collection. Other possibilities to improve the sensitivity and research steps necessary to establish the feasibility of the technique for retrospective assessment of radiation exposure are also discussed.

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