Oxygen vacancies are known to play a central role in the optoelectronic properties of oxide perovskites. A detailed description of the exact mechanisms by which oxygen vacancies govern such properties, however, is still quite incomplete. The unambiguous identification of oxygen vacancies has been a subject of intense discussion. Interest in oxygen vacancies is not purely academic. Precise control of oxygen vacancies has potential technological benefits in optoelectronic devices. In this review paper, we focus our attention on the generation of oxygen vacancies by irradiation with high energy particles. Irradiation constitutes an efficient and reliable strategy to introduce, monitor, and characterize oxygen vacancies. Unfortunately, this technique has been underexploited despite its demonstrated advantages. This review revisits the main experimental results that have been obtained for oxygen vacancy centers (a) under high energy electron irradiation (100 keV-1 MeV) in LiNbO3, and (b) during irradiation with high-energy heavy (1-20 MeV) ions in SrTiO3. In both cases, the experiments have used real-time and in situ optical detection. Moreover, the present paper discusses the obtained results in relation to present knowledge from both the experimental and theoretical perspectives. Our view is that a consistent picture is now emerging on the structure and relevant optical features (absorption and emission spectra) of these centers. One key aspect of the topic pertains to the generation of self-trapped electrons as small polarons by irradiation of the crystal lattice and their stabilization by oxygen vacancies. What has been learned by observing the interplay between polarons and vacancies has inspired new models for color centers in dielectric crystals, models which represent an advancement from the early models of color centers in alkali halides and simple oxides. The topic discussed in this review is particularly useful to better understand the complex effects of different types of radiation on the defect structure of those materials, therefore providing relevant clues for nuclear engineering applications.


Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science


This work has been supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division under Contract DE-AC05-00OR22725.

Keywords and Phrases

Defects; Lithium Niobate; Luminescence; Oxygen Vacancies; Polarons; Self-Trapped Electrons; Strontium Titanate

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

File Type





© 2021 The Authors, All rights reserved.

Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Publication Date

22 Mar 2021