Taking Advantage of Disorder: Small-Molecule Organic Glasses for Radiation Detection and Particle Discrimination

A series of fluorescent silyl-fluorene molecules were synthesized and studied with respect to their photophysical properties and response toward ionizing neutron and gamma-ray radiation. Optically transparent and stable organic glasses were prepared from these materials using a bulk melt-casting procedure. The prepared organic glass monoliths provided fluorescence quantum yields and radiation detection properties exceeding the highest-performing benchmark materials such as solution-grown trans-stilbene crystals. Co-melts based on blends of two different glass-forming compounds were prepared with the goal of enhancing the stability of the amorphous state. Accelerated aging experiments on co-melt mixtures ranging from 0% to 100% of each component indicated improved resistance to recrystallization in the glass blends, able to remain fully amorphous for >1 month at 60 °C. Secondary dopants comprising singlet fluorophores or iridium organometallic compounds provided further improved detection efficiency, as evaluated by light yield and neutron/gamma particle discrimination measurements. Optimized singlet and triplet doping levels were determined to be 0.05 wt % 1,4-bis­(2-methylstyryl)­benzene singlet fluorophore and 0.28 wt % Ir3+, respectively.