Optimizing light transport in scintillation crystals for time-of-flight PET: An experimental and optical Monte Carlo simulation study

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12 Scopus citations


Achieving excellent timing resolution in gamma ray detectors is crucial in several applications such as medical imaging with time-of-flight positron emission tomography (TOF-PET). Although many factors impact the overall system timing resolution, the statistical nature of scintillation light, including photon production and transport in the crystal to the photodetector, is typically the limiting factor for modern scintillation detectors. In this study, we investigated the impact of surface treatment, in particular, roughening select areas of otherwise polished crystals, on light transport and timing resolution. A custom Monte Carlo photon tracking tool was used to gain insight into changes in light collection and timing resolution that were observed experimentally: select roughening configurations increased the light collection up to 25% and improved timing resolution by 15% compared to crystals with all polished surfaces. Simulations showed that partial surface roughening caused a greater number of photons to be reflected towards the photodetector and increased the initial rate of photoelectron production. This study provides a simple method to improve timing resolution and light collection in scintillatorbased gamma ray detectors, a topic of high importance in the field of TOFPET. Additionally, we demonstrated utility of our Monte Carlo simulation tool to accurately predict the effect of altering crystal surfaces on light collection and timing resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA015
Pages (from-to)2220-2230
Number of pages11
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biotechnology

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