Luminescence and ESR dating laboratory

Labs # 0315 and # 0530 | Risø TL/OSL reader DA-20 | Freiberg Instruments lexsyg research reader | Magnettech MS-5000 X ESR spectrometer | Magnettech heating unit | Freiberg Instruments X-ray Dose | Canberra gamma-spectrometer | Hönle UVACUBE 400 with SOL 500 unit | Sample preparation facilities

Labs # 0315 and # 0530

Quartz and feldspar minerals produce thermoluminescence (TL) and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). Both signals represent the amount of trapped charge resulting from exposure of the mineral to ionising radiation due to natural radioactivity. The intensity of specific TL and OSL signals is a function of the mineral’s prior thermal history and sunlight exposure. While in dating applications, usually the time of last sunlight exposure is determined, the luminescence signals’ sensitivity to temperature allows the reconstruction of past rock temperatures (palaeothermometry) or the cooling history of rocks in the course of exhumation (thermochronometry). Electron spin resonance (ESR) methods applied to quartz minerals detect related signals but are able to constrain higher trapped charge concentrations because of their later signal saturation. For information about the trapped-charge dating research carried out at UNIL please see here:


The trapped charge laboratory is a research laboratory, and scientific collaborations are welcome. For further information, please contact

Prof. Dr. Georgina King ( and PD Dr. Christoph Schmidt (


Lab # 0315 - Phone 4424
Lab #
0530 - Phone 4398




Luminescence dating laboratory


The trapped charge laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments, as detailed in the following.


Risø TL/OSL reader DA-20

The trapped charge laboratory presently hosts five Risø TL-DA-20 readers with the following specifications:


Risø 1: Pulsed-OSL and time-resolved detection via photon-timer attachment; irradiation at elevated temperature

Risø 2: Dual infra-red and green laser single-grain dating system

Risø 3: DASH

Risø 4: DASH, EMCCD camera

Risø 5: DASH, spectrometer

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Risø TL/OSL DA-20 reader equipped with dual infra-red and green laser single-grain dating system

Risø TL/OSL DA-20 reader equipped with EMCCD camera

Risø TL/OSL DA-20 reader equipped with emission spectrometer



Freiberg Instruments lexsyg research reader

Besides standard TL and OSL measurements, this instrument allows recording infrared-radiofluorescence (IR-RF), UV-radiofluorescence (UV-RF), time-resolved OSL, wavelength-controlled bleaching and is equipped with a special photomultiplier tube for measuring red TL (~600–650 nm).


Freiberg Instruments lexsyg research reader



Magnettech MS-5000 X ESR spectrometer

In combination with a temperature controller this bench-top X-band spectrometer facilitates ESR measurements at liquid nitrogen temperature to detect particular signals of interest.


Magnettech MS-5000 X ESR spectrometer



Magnettech heating unit

The heating unit allows the controlled (pre-)heating of up to 20 ESR samples at the same time.


Magnettech heating unit



Freiberg Instruments X-ray Dose

Two bench-top tungsten 50 kV X-ray irradiation facilities (ESR version) mainly used for ESR samples or for experiments including laboratory dose rate variations


Freiberg Instruments X-ray dose irradiator



Canberra gamma-spectrometer

Laboratory-based high-purity Ge-detector including intelligent preamplifier (iPA) and DSA-LX digital signal analyzer for determining the dose rate of rock samples via their U, Th and K contents.


Canberra digital handheld multi-channel analyzer (Inspector 1000) with NaI(Tl) scintillation probe for in-situ measurement of gamma-dose rate at the sampling spot in the field.



Canberra high purity Ge-detector gamma spectrometer



Hönle UVACUBE 400 with SOL 500 unit

The light spectrum produced by this device is used to reset light-sensitive luminescence signals under controlled and reproducible conditions. The UVB component of the spectrum is cut by an H1 filter in front of the bulb.


Hönle UVACUBE 400 with SOL500 unit



Sample preparation facilities

The laboratory hosts dedicated rock sample preparation facilities for surface exposure and surface burial dating, including a variety of diamond-tipped rock saws, a diamond-tipped coring drill (enabling different core diameters) as well as an automated diamond wire saw for cutting mm-scale rock slices. All of these instruments are water-cooled to prevent unintended effects on the samples’ luminescence signal. 

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Diamond saw and diamond tipped coring drill

Diamond wire saw.