When a small sample of ancient pottery is heated it glows with a faint blue light, known as thermoluminescence or TL.
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In all, close to two dozen physical quantities must be accurately measured to establish the relationship between doses of different kinds of radiation and light output, and to compute dose rate.
Thermoluminescence (TL) dating of sediments depends upon the acquisition and long term stable storage of TL energy by crystalline minerals contained within a sedimentary unit.
This energy is stored in the form of trapped electrons and quartz sand is the most commonly used mineral employed in the dating process.
Prior to the final depositional episode it is necessary that any previously acquired TL is removed by exposure to sunlight.