Scintillation Materials Research Center

Scintillation Materials Research Center

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The SMRC is a unique, multidisciplinary research facility focused on the discovery and development of new materials that will provide the foundation for the next generation of radiation detectors.

Operating as usual

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 17/06/2024

SMRC students Kim Pestovich and Megan Gillespie gave a talk on "Poster Presentations 101" to undergraduate students and their graduate student mentors participating in the REU SMaRT program at UTK. The session was hosted by the Center for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing.

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 15/06/2024

Undergraduate researcher Megan Gillespie taught local high school students during the week-long Materials Science and Engineering annual Materials Science Camp! Megan’s role involved preparing materials for slip casting and sand-casting demonstrations, teaching the students about poster design, and mentoring. The high school students also toured the Scintillation Materials Research Center, with graduate students Bethany Claes, Kaden Anderson, and Chris Fritz as tour guides.

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 11/06/2024

Last week, PhD students Sarah Longworth and Rebecca Lalk drove out to Texas A&M University to attend the NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development University Program Review (UPR), 2024.

Sarah Longworth, a fellow of the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium (NSSC), presented a poster titled “Investigating Gd2Al2O7 as a Scintillator Candidate.” What Sarah enjoyed most about UPR was connecting with researchers who use scintillators for their own work and learning more about how her research fits into the diverse field of nuclear security.

Rebecca Lalk, an affiliate of the NSSC, presented a poster titled “Thermoluminescence Investigation of High Entropy GYTLAG Garnet Scintillator.” Rebecca says that what she most enjoyed about UPR was hearing about all of the other students’ research and realizing what a large number of fields are research areas make important contributions to the nonproliferation mission.

They would like to extend their gratitude to Texas A&M for hosting, to the NNSA for funding the university consortia, and to the conference organizer. Also, thanks especially to the NNSC for providing many opportunities to connect with the nonproliferation mission and to their advisors who support them in such interesting work.


Welcome to the SMRC, Ian Marshall! 🎉 Ian is a rising senior in biomedical engineering. He will be working with graduate student mentor Kaden Anderson on transparent garnet ceramics.


It's the end of the semester! To celebrate, the SMRC went out for ice cream at the UT Creamery 🍦

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 11/05/2024

We met to celebrate and send off four researchers from the SMRC to their next roles. James Pierce is graduating with his B.S. in Nuclear Engineering, and Daniel Rutstrom has completed his PhD in Materials Science & Engineering. Liam Nguyen will soon complete his M.S. in Nuclear Engineering, and Postdoc Yauhen Tratsiak will be departing at the end of the month. You all will be missed!


SMRC researchers worked with a team from Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc. on a recent manuscript in the Journal of Crystal Growth. The investigation includes crystal growth, phase formation, physical properties, and band structure of TlSr2Cl5 and TlSr2Br5 scintillators.

Access to the article is free at this link until 06/28:

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 09/05/2024

The awards ceremony for EURēCA, the Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement, was held earlier this week. Undergraduate researchers Bethany Claes and Megan Gillespie were each honored with Awards of Merit in the Research Category for the Tickle College of Engineering. Great work Bethany and Megan!!

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 28/04/2024

SMRC students Rebecca Lalk, Kaden Anderson, Bethany Claes, Meredith Harpel, and Megan Gillespie were featured in a promotional photoshoot for the The University of Tennessee Department of Materials Science and Engineering. It was an exciting day in the lab! 📸

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 26/04/2024

Four SMRC undergraduate researchers presented at this week! EURēCA is coordinated by Undergraduate Research & Fellowships (URF) within the Division of Student Success. The students' projects are diverse: development of polycrystalline scintillators, micropulling down crystal growth, developing a phase diagram, and polycrystalline semiconductor discovery. Nice work!! 🎉


The SMRC participated in UTK's Environmental Health and Safety Lab Cleaning Day! We love our labs, and we love when they are clean.


Congratulations to Daniel Rutstrom on his recent manuscript that has just been accepted for publication in Journal of Materials Chemistry C (impact factor 6.4!)!

Here is a link to the paper:


Megan Gillespie and Kim Pestovich led a "Poster Presenting 101" session with UT Center for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing. They shared their advice on poster content, design, and interacting with your audience.


Congratulations to Daniel Rutstrom on defending his doctoral dissertation! It was titled, "Development of Novel Cesium Chloride-based Ultrafast Inorganic Scintillators for Fast Timing Radiation Detection Applications."

Photos from The University of Tennessee Department of Materials Science and Engineering's post 17/04/2024

Undergraduate researcher Megan Gillespie advocated for STEM education at the Materials Advantage congressional meeting in Washington DC!

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 17/04/2024

Several SMRC students were recognized at the UT Student Engagement Awards for their work with student organizations. Undergraduate researcher Marlena Alexander was named the 2024 recipient of the "Outstanding Executive Board Member" award for her work with Materials Advantage. Graduate students Rebecca Lalk and Kim Pestovich serve on the board of Materials Research Society, which was named the 2024 recipient of the "Outstanding Academic Student Organization."


Congratulations to postdoctoral researcher Yauhen Tratsiak and co-authors on a new article "Synthesis and temperature dependent luminescence investigation of GdOCl:Ce3+ powders" in Optical Materials!

Read it here:

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 02/04/2024

Congratulations to PhD students Rebecca Lalk and Kim Pestovich on their awards from the Graduate Student Senate! 🎉

Rebecca was awarded "Excellence in Service." The Excellence in Service Award is presented to graduate and professional students who exemplify extraordinary leadership, participate in service learning or other community initiatives, and provide service leadership to their academic discipline through service in professional organizations.

Kim was awarded "Excellence in Graduate Research." The Excellence in Graduate Research Award is presented to graduate and professional students who have received recognition in their field and show promise in their area of research and creative achievement.

Read more here:


This week, Kim Pestovich defended her PhD dissertation proposal! The presentation was titled "Discovery of New Inorganic Rubidium-Based Halide Perovskite Scintillators & Their Prospects for Homeland Security Applications."


Happy Monday! 🤩

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 09/02/2024

Several undergraduate and graduate researchers from the SMRC presented their research at this week's Student Night Poster Session, hosted by the Oak Ridge Chapter of ASM and the UT Center for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing.

Many of these students were recognized with awards! Among the undergraduate students, Megan Gillespie won 1st place, Bethany Claes won 3rd place, and Meredith Harpel won a special ACerS award. Among the graduate students, Kim Pestovich won 1st place and Kaden Anderson won 2nd place. Great work, everyone!


Graduate students Rebecca Lalk and Daniel Rutstrom toured Dr. Hari Srikanth through the SMRC laboratories last week. Dr. Srikanth is a Distinguished University Professor in the Physics Department at the University of South Florida.

He was visiting UT to present "Turning on the heat with spins and their transport across interfaces in heterostructures" in the The University of Tennessee Department of Materials Science and Engineering's seminar series.

Pictured here is Daniel discussing Vertical Bridgman growth procedures with Dr. Srikanth


Monday motivation 🤩

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 05/02/2024

Last week, PhD student Rebecca Lalk traveled to Daytona Beach, FL, to deliver a talk titled "Scintillation Mechanism in a GYTLAG Single Crystal" at the 48th International Conference & Exposition on Advanced Ceramics & Composites (ICACC).

This trip was made possible thanks to a travel award from the Center for Materials Processing ( at UT as well as a student registration fee waiver granted by the conference organizers.

In addition to attending exhilarating talks and enjoying the beach, Rebecca met a few SMRC alumni, including previous undergraduate researcher Madeline Loveday and previous graduate student Dr. Josh Smith. Rebecca says that this conference was a great experience. She's also thankful to her coauthors and other SMRC coworkers who supported her.


Follow the new .smrc Instagram page!

We will still be posting updates here, too


Congratulations to PhD student Daniel Rutstrom on the issuing of his patent "Tl+-based and Mixed Halide A3B2X9-type Scintillators." Daniel was recently recognized at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation's annual Innovation Awards.

Read about the event here:


2023 was another great year for research, service, and collaboration!
Among many things that we are celebrating, here are some highlights:
⭐️10 publications among our researchers and collaborators
⭐️33 oral and poster presentations at professional & student meetings
⭐️20 awards for research, presentations, service, and academic activities
⭐️3 Masters of Science degrees awarded


An article on the halide perovskite RbSrI3 by PhD student Kim Pestovich was recently published. The manuscript is included in a special issue of the Journal of Crystal Growth dedicated to the 23rd American Conference on Crystal Growth and Epitaxy (ACCGE-23).

Read the text here:

Photos from Scintillation Materials Research Center's post 16/12/2023

Two SMRC students celebrated the completion of their Masters degrees this afternoon.

Congratulations to Kaden Anderson and Rebecca Lalk!

Both students completed degrees in Materials Science and Engineering and will be continuing on for their PhDs

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Videos (show all)

3rd - "Seeing a scintillator” submitted by Rebecca Lalk
Glowing Crystals