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In the laboratory, the accumulated radiation dose can be measured, but this by itself is insufficient to determine the time since the zeroing event.
The Radiation Dose Rate - the dose accumulated per year-must be determined first.
Different materials vary considerably in their suitability for the technique, depending on several factors.
Subsequent irradiation, for example if an x-ray is taken, can affect accuracy, as will the "annual dose" of radiation a buried object has received from the surrounding soil.
Oxford Authentication: Home - TL Testing Authentication 'Oxford Authentication® Ltd authenticates ceramic antiquities using the scientific technique of thermoluminescence (TL).
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This is commonly done by measurement of the alpha radioactivity (the uranium and thorium content) and the potassium content (K-40 is a beta and gamma emitter) of the sample material.
An example of this can be seen in Rink and Bartoll, 2005.Natural crystalline materials contain imperfections: impurity ions, stress dislocations, and other phenomena that disturb the regularity of the electric field that holds the atoms in the crystalline lattice together.These imperfections lead to local humps and dips in the crystalline material's electric potential.The sample material is illuminated with a very bright source of green or blue light (for quartz) or infrared light (for potassium feldspars).Ultraviolet light emitted by the sample is detected for measurement.