In March 2013 the University of Adelaide opened its new science building "The Braggs", in the basement of which is housed the John R. Prescott Laboratory for Environmental Luminescence. The laboratory studies luminescence phenomena for application to sensing, including trace detection of substances such as explosives, environmental monitoring using luminescence induced by ambient radiation, and luminescence from accrued radiation damage in suitable opportunistically-available materials for use as "environmental dosimeters".
In the latter role, radiation-induced luminescence can be used as a dating technique in archaeology, palaeontology and geology (primarily within the last half-million years). It also has unique applications to Defence, National Security and Public Health. These include the forensic detection of prior radiation exposure and quantification of radiation dose over affected areas, following radiological events such as the Fukushima incident. The capabilities of the Environmental Luminescence Laboratory for detecting and quantifying radiation effects as a window into ancient times will be discussed, as will some applications in the modern world.
Nigel holds an MSc (Physics) degree from the University of Adelaide and a DPhil. (Physics) from the University of Oxford. In 1993 he was recruited by the Australian National University to establish and head their new Luminescence Laboratory. He joined DSTO in 2002, where he currently leads the Luminescence research activity and is establishing a joint DSTO-University of Adelaide Luminescence Centre of Expertise, within the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing.