2022-023 – Colorimetric Sensor for Radiation Monitoring

Current dosimeters (radiographic films, scintillation detectors, ion chambers) used to measure external ionizing radiation, suffer many drawbacks including difficulty interpreting signals, high cost, complexity of operation, and they are often single-point detectors. Colorimetric radiation detectors have offered a less complex mechanism and more cost-effective alternative, by producing a change in color or absorption when exposed to radiation due to the presence of one or more photochromic dyes in the detector. Current mechanisms with radiation-induced fluorescence quenching of an organic dye is acceptable but requires a hazardous Cl-based solvent to quench the fluorescence, which limits its utility in different surfaces or architectures. In addition, these relatively inexpensive materials suffer from poor sensitivity and only function in the liquid state. Thus, there is a need for a stable, non-toxic, less expensive, and more effective colorimetric radiation detector, to be utilized as an enhanced radiation monitoring device.

Technology Description:
Researchers at the University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories have collaborated to develop an ultraviolet (UV) light exposure monitoring sensor, focused on the energetic response of a non-toxic metal halide. The present invention is a colorimetric (direct reading) radiation detector, comprising a metal halide and dye molecule, where the dye can be any number of quenchable dyes, such as fluorescein. The selected metal halide is a well-known photocatalyst with potential applications in clean energy utilization due to its desirable chemical stability and non-toxicity. Upon exposure to UV radiation, the photocatalyst goes to an excited energy state, which can be transferred to other dye molecules to induce a color change. The photocatalyst’s chemical safety and wavelength sensitivity makes it a promising material for colorimetric UV sensors. For example, the direct reading detector does not require ex situ heating and reading with a photomultiplier detector, as is required with thermoluminescence devices.




  • Increased safety and less risk associated with detectors
  • Easier reading of radiation detection
  • Does not require ex situ heating
  • Compatible with a wide spectrum of quenchable dyes

Potential Applications:

  • Chemical Industry (Production, Storage, and Transportation of Chemicals)
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Automobiles
  • Robotics
  • Environmental and Structural Health Monitoring

Contact Information:

Name: Andrew Roerick

Email: aroerick@innovations.unm.edu

Phone: 505-277-0608