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Health Phys. 2010 Feb;98(2):432-9. doi: 10.1097/01.HP.0000347997.57654.17.

Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) of tooth enamel and its potential use in post-radiation exposure triage.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Oklahoma State University, 145 PSII, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA.


Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) properties of dental enamel are discussed with a view to the development of an in vivo dose assessment technique for medical triage following a radiological/nuclear accident or terrorist event. In the OSL technique, past radiation exposure is assessed by stimulating the sample with light of one wavelength and monitoring the luminescence at another wavelength, under the assumption that the luminescence originates from the recombination of radiation-induced charges trapped at metastable defects in the enamel and that the intensity of the luminescence signal is in proportion to the absorbed radiation dose. Several primary findings emerged from this research: (a) sensitivities varied considerably between different teeth and also between fragments of the same tooth, (b) OSL signals were found to decay rapidly during the first 12 h after irradiation and more slowly afterward, (c) the fading rate of the luminescence signal varied between fragments, and (d) blue light stimulation yields greater sensitivity than infra-red stimulation, while the OSL signal obtained with a high-intensity pulsed green-light laser was found not to be correlated with the radiation dose. Significant challenges remain to developing a practical in vivo technique, including the development of calibration procedures and lowering minimum detectable doses.

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