fluorescence


fluorescence

Emission of electromagnetic radiation, usually visible light, caused by excitation of atoms in a material, which then reemit almost immediately (within about 108 seconds). The initial excitation is usually caused by absorption of energy from incident radiation or particles, such as X-rays or electrons. Because reemission occurs so quickly, the fluorescence ceases as soon as the exciting source is removed, unlike phosphorescence, which persists as an afterglow. A fluorescent lightbulb is coated on the inside with a powder and contains a gas; electricity causes the gas to emit ultraviolet radiation, which then stimulates the tube coating to emit light. The pixels of a television or computer screen fluoresce when electrons from an electron gun strike them. Fluorescence is often used to analyze molecules, and the addition of a fluorescing agent with emissions in the blue region of the spectrum to detergents causes fabrics to appear whiter in sunlight. X-ray fluorescence is used to analyze minerals.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on fluorescence, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up fluorescence? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More