Hilger Crystals: Establishing an Improved Process for Growing Crystals

Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Hilger Crystals has a long established history in the supply of synthetic crystals for infrared spectroscopy and X and gamma ray detection. They have enjoyed working with Kent’s School of Physical Sciences for over a decade. Their latest collaboration, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, was developed to establish an efficient, high volume crystal growth process of single crystal scintillators with uniform standard, which would improve their standing in the global market.

The Challenge

Hilger Crystals aimed to significantly reduce the afterglow from current standard commercial materials for use in X-ray scanners, typically airport security scanners. This would ultimately lead to improved security, faster scanning times and sharper images in a global market where cutting edge technology is a necessity.

The Approach

A 30 month Knowledge Transfer Partnership was established between Hilger Crystals and the University to establish an efficient, high volume crystal growth process of single crystal scintillators with uniform standard.

“The Knowledge Transfer Partnership has allowed Hilger Crystals to regain its position in a very niche area for X ray security imaging.”

Jim Telfer, Managing Director at Hilger Crystals

The Result

Within six months new samples of crystals had been developed, enabling the company to scale up and build a pilot-plant and sell the new crystals a year ahead of schedule. Additionally, the new product was less expensive to produce and the crystal growth procedure was simplified leading to further cost reductions.

“Not only was the project a technical and commercial success, but it also culminated in the recruitment of the KTP Associate as a full time member of staff.”