Quartz luminescence dating

Thermoluminescence testing involves heating a sample until it releases a type of light, which is then measured to determine the last time the item was heated.

In thermoluminescence dating, these long-term traps are used to determine the age of materials: When irradiated crystalline material is again heated or exposed to strong light, the trapped electrons are given sufficient energy to escape.

The amount of light produced is proportional to the number of trapped electrons that have been freed which is in turn proportional to the radiation dose accumulated.

Its use is now common in the authentication of old ceramic wares, for which it gives the approximate date of the last firing.

An example of this can be seen in Rink and Bartoll, 2005.

Different materials vary considerably in their suitability for the technique, depending on several factors.

Subsequent irradiation, for example if an x-ray is taken, can affect accuracy, as will the "annual dose" of radiation a buried object has received from the surrounding soil.

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Once all components of the radiation field are determined, the accumulated dose from the thermoluminescence measurements is divided by the dose accumulating each year, to obtain the years since the zeroing event.

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