High spatial dynamics-photoluminescence imaging reveals the metallurgy of the earliest lost-wax cast object
Photoluminescence spectroscopy is a key method to monitor defects in semiconductors from nanophotonics to solar cell systems. Paradoxically, its great sensitivity to small variations of local environment becomes a handicap for heterogeneous systems, such as are encountered in environmental, medical, ancient materials sciences and engineering. Here we demonstrate that a novel full-field photoluminescence imaging approach allows accessing the spatial distribution of crystal defect fluctuations at the crystallite level across centimetre-wide fields of view. This capacity is illustrated in archaeology and material sciences. The coexistence of two hitherto indistinguishable non-stoichiometric cuprous oxide phases is revealed in a 6,000-year-old amulet from Mehrgarh (Baluchistan, Pakistan), identified as the oldest known artefact made by lost-wax casting and providing a better understanding of this fundamental invention. Low-concentration crystal defect fluctuations are readily mapped within ZnO nanowires. High spatial dynamics-photoluminescence imaging holds great promise for the characterization of bulk heterogeneous systems across multiple disciplines.