Towards accurate subsurface thermometry using luminescence techniques




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Temperature is a primary factor in countless physical, chemical and biological processes and reactions; as a result, about 80% of the global sensor market comprises of devices that monitor present-day temperatures. Nevertheless, many key questions in both basic science as well as industrial applications require the ability to reconstruct temperatures in the deep past – way beyond the historical and/or instrumental records. Recently, DTU Nutech has pioneered a novel methodology, which enables to measure and translate a well-defined physical parameter of natural crystals (luminescence) into corresponding palaeo-temperatures on an unprecedented, thousand-year-long timescale:

Having a solid footing in radiation physics, this new method sees an increasing demand in several derivative disciplines such as geoscience (e.g. for understanding the evolution of mountains) and geoengineering (e.g. for geothermal/hydrocarbon prospecting).



In the current project, we seek to extend the method’s current applicability range (0 - 70 °C) by about fourfold (0 - 300 °C), with the aim of demonstrating a simple technology transfer to geothermics (research of medium-high enthalpy geothermal resources). The research project will focus on the characterisation of various luminescence signals in a suite of borehole samples from the Central European Craton (KTB superdeep borehole), where the underground temperature has been stable for millions of years. After an initial physico-chemical separation of the target minerals from the drill cores, you will measure the minerals’ natural luminescence, and then conduct a series of experiments to study luminescence response to  ionising radiation and heat. Eventually, the resultant data will be evaluated using a predictive physical model – whose calibration and improvement will enable its use in environments of unknown thermal conditions. You will be able to play with the deepest rock sample ever obtained (originating ~9 km underground), among others!


During the project, you will enjoy a hands-on experience with a broad array of cutting-edge radiation physics instruments, including low-level gamma spectrometers, various generations of Risø TL/OSL readers, (micro) X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, and optionally the CryOgenic LUminescence Research (COLUR) facility. In addition, you may get involved in the development of new instruments, e.g. the spatially-resolved infrared photoluminescence (SR-IRPL) reader. The project is of strong multidisciplinary nature, and is thus sufficiently flexible to follow your own personal interest(s) and areas of competence. Primarily, we seek to clarify and improve our understanding of the basic physical processes occurring inside natural crystals exposed to radiation and heat with a motivation to develop concrete geological and geotechnical applications. DTU Nutech has >30 years of research in developing new instruments to facilitate cutting edge research in ionizing radiation dosimetry.


Learning objectives

  • Recognising the environmental processes that affect the build-up and removal of luminescence in subsurface rocks.

  • Describing present-day environmental conditions at the KTB borehole (Germany).

  • Characterising the luminescence within representative samples from the KTB borehole (Germany) using selected veteran/novel radiation measurement techniques.

  • Analysing the quality and reproducibility of results, in light of the various environmental and radiation factors.

  • Evaluating the individual characteristics of luminescence signals, and their overall trend with depth using the evolving feldspar luminescence model.

  • Participating in the development of novel equipment (spatially-resolved IRPL reader), and in the formulation/testing of the feldspar luminescence model.


Supervisor: Mayank Jain

Co-Supervisor: Benny Guralnik


Curious mind; Enjoys handiwork/engineering; Experimentalist mentality (try – fail – try again); Comfortable with math and modelling (MATLAB)

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DTU Nutech


Mayank Jain





Kandidatuddannelsen i Fysik og Nanoteknologi


Mayank Jain






DTU er et teknisk eliteuniversitet med international rækkevidde og standard. Vores mission er at udvikle og nyttiggøre naturvidenskab og teknisk videnskab til gavn for samfundet. 10.000 studerende uddanner sig her til fremtiden, og 5.700 medarbejdere har hver dag fokus på uddannelse, forskning, myndighedsrådgivning og innovation, som bidrager til øget vækst og velfærd.

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Anker Engelunds Vej 1
Bygning 101A
2800 Kgs. Lyngby

45 25 25 25

CVR-nr. 30 06 09 46

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