The traditional OSL method relies on optical stimulation and transfer of electrons from one trap, to holes located elsewhere in the lattice – necessarily requiring two defects to be in nearby proximity, and hence it is a destructive technique.
The problem is that nearby electron/hole trapping centres suffer from localized tunneling, eradicating their signal over time; it is this issue that currently defines the upper age-limit for OSL dating In 1994, the principles behind optical and thermoluminescence dating were extended to include surfaces made of granite, basalt and sandstone, such as carved rock from ancient monuments and artifacts.
The photons of the emitted light must have higher energies than the excitation photons in order to avoid measurement of ordinary photoluminescence.
For example, in quartz a short daylight exposure in the range of 1–100 seconds before burial is sufficient to effectively “reset” the OSL dating clock.
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The trapped charge accumulates over time at a rate determined by the amount of background radiation at the location where the sample was buried.