Photonics Dictionary


Luminescence is the emission of light that occurs without the involved substance undergoing a significant increase in temperature. In other words, it is the production and emission of light by a material or substance, often as a result of electronic, molecular, or atomic transitions. Luminescence is a broad term that encompasses various phenomena, including fluorescence, phosphorescence, chemiluminescence, and bioluminescence.

Here are some key types of luminescence:

Fluorescence: In fluorescence, a substance absorbs light at one wavelength (usually in the ultraviolet or visible spectrum) and then quickly re-emits light at a longer wavelength. The emission stops almost immediately when the excitation light is removed.

Phosphorescence: Phosphorescence is similar to fluorescence but involves a longer delay between light absorption and emission. After exposure to light, a phosphorescent material continues to emit light for some time even after the excitation source is removed.

Chemiluminescence: Chemiluminescence is the production of light as a result of a chemical reaction. This phenomenon is often employed in glow sticks, where two chemical components mix, and the ensuing reaction produces light.

Bioluminescence: Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by living organisms, such as fireflies, certain types of jellyfish, and some fungi. This phenomenon is often associated with specific biochemical reactions involving light-emitting molecules like luciferin.

Luminescence is widely used in various applications, including analytical chemistry, medical imaging, and lighting technology. The study and application of luminescence have practical implications in fields such as materials science, biology, and physics. The specific type of luminescence observed depends on the nature of the material and the processes leading to the emission of light.

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