Scintillating crystals play a growing role in Particle Physics, and in other fields, like medical instrumentation. A pedagogical introduction to the mechanisms governing the features of scintillation and the behaviour of the scintillating material under irradiation will be given. The main developments achieved or under investigation on various scintillating materials will be described, as well as the different methods used for reading-out the light. Some applications to calorimetry for HEP will be described in detail. The evolution of techniques resting on crystals, like computerized tomography and positron emission tomography, will be illustrated.
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