The technique is based on the fact that certain crystal behaves as natural dosimeters.
This means that electrons and holes are accumulated over time in the crystal lattice induced by surrounding radiation.
The age range of luminescence methods generally spans from a few decades to about 100,000 years, though ages exceeding several hundred thousand years have been reported in some studies.
OSL is also less commonly referred to as optical dating, photon stimulated luminescence dating or photoluminescence dating..
Thermaluminesence (TL) and Optically Stimulated Luminesence (OSL) may assist in extending age dating timescales though there is a huge challenge in selecting suitable sampling materials.
TL dating is a matter of comparing the energy stored in a crystal to what "ought" to be there, thereby coming up with a date-of-last-heated.
Measuring the energy and determining the rate at which the energy accumulated allows an age representing the time that has elapsed since the energy began accumulating to be determined.
Stimulation of energy release using heat is termed TL while stimulation using light is referred to as OSL.
Luminescence dating methods are based on the ability of some mineral grains to absorb and store energy from environmental ionizing radiation emanating from the immediate surroundings of the mineral grains as well as from cosmic radiation.