Research impact - High-quality crystals for national security

Karen Baxter

A case study submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2014 demonstrating the impact of the University's research.

X-ray scanners are a staple of the security industry; their use at ports and airports is a key component of national security. However, the identification of objects is not always straightforward, partly because of blurring due to an electronic process called ‘afterglow’.

The company Hilger Crystals, which grows crystals for use in X-ray scanners, collaborated with researchers at Kent to determine the origins of afterglow. This led to the development of high-quality crystals with reduced afterglow and sharper images. These state-of-the-art crystals are now in production for use in X-ray scanners, and there is also potential for their use within medical diagnostics.

The researchers involved from the School of Physical Sciences include: Dr Maria Alfredsson, Dr Aran Blacklocks, Professor Alan Chadwick, Dr Gavin Mountjoy.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 showed that Kent ranks 17th in the UK for research intensity, has world-leading research in all subjects and that 97% of our research is deemed to be of international quality.

Contributing to the University’s REF success were the number of our world class publications, the number of research active staff and the demonstrable impact our research has made to the sciences and to economic, social and cultural understanding.