In thermoluminescence dating, these long-term traps are used to determine the age of materials: When irradiated crystalline material is again heated or exposed to strong light, the trapped electrons are given sufficient energy to escape.
In the process of recombining with a lattice ion, they lose energy and emit photons (light quanta), detectable in the laboratory.
Clubbing it with the leg, it falls and your defense shatters.
Pushing past its crumpled body, you’re driven to the roof.
Optically stimulated luminescence dating is a related measurement method which replaces heating with exposure to intense light.
The sample material is illuminated with a very bright source of green or blue light (for quartz) or infrared light (for potassium feldspars).
The heating must have taken the object above 500° C, which covers most ceramics, although very high-fired porcelain creates other difficulties.
Thermoluminescence dating (TL) is the determination, by means of measuring the accumulated radiation dose, of the time elapsed since material containing crystalline minerals was either heated (lava, ceramics) or exposed to sunlight (sediments).
As a crystalline material is heated during measurements, the process of thermoluminescence starts.
An example of this can be seen in Rink and Bartoll, 2005.
Thermoluminescence dating was modified for use as a passive sand migration analysis tool by Keizars, et al., 2008 (Figure 3), demonstrating the direct consequences resulting from the improper replenishment of starving beaches using fine sands, as well as providing a passive method of policing sand replenishment and observing riverine or other sand inputs along shorelines (Figure 4).
Thermoluminescence dating presupposes a "zeroing" event in the history of the material, either heating (in the case of pottery or lava) or exposure to sunlight (in the case of sediments), that removes the pre-existing trapped electrons.