Journal of Materials Research


Radiation detector materials: An overview

B.D. Milbratha1 c1, A.J. Peurrunga1, M. Blissa1 and W.J. Webera1b)

a1 Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington 99352


Due to events of the past two decades, there has been new and increased usage of radiation-detection technologies for applications in homeland security, nonproliferation, and national defense. As a result, there has been renewed realization of the materials limitations of these technologies and greater demand for the development of next-generation radiation-detection materials. This review describes the current state of radiation-detection material science, with particular emphasis on national security needs and the goal of identifying the challenges and opportunities that this area represents for the materials-science community. Radiation-detector materials physics is reviewed, which sets the stage for performance metrics that determine the relative merit of existing and new materials. Semiconductors and scintillators represent the two primary classes of radiation detector materials that are of interest. The state-of-the-art and limitations for each of these materials classes are presented, along with possible avenues of research. Novel materials that could overcome the need for single crystals will also be discussed. Finally, new methods of material discovery and development are put forward, the goal being to provide more predictive guidance and faster screening of candidate materials and thus, ultimately, the faster development of superior radiation-detection materials.

(Received March 20 2008)

(Accepted June 24 2008)

Key Words:

  • Devices;
  • Luminescence;
  • Semiconducting


c1 Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail:


b) This author was an editor of this journal during the review and decision stage. For the JMR policy on review and publication of manuscripts authored by editors, please refer to