How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 538

What's the difference between fluorescent, phosphorescent, and triboluminescent? - DS
Fluorescence is the prompt emission of light from an atom, molecule, or solid that has extra energy. For example, when some of the dyes used in modern swimwear and clothing are exposed to ultraviolet light, they absorb the light energy and promptly reemit part of that energy as visible light—typically brilliant greens and oranges. In contrast, phosphorescence is the delayed emission of light by an atom, molecule, or solid that has extra energy. Glow-in-the-dark objects are phosphorescent—they are able to store the extra energy they obtain during exposure to light for remarkably long times before they finally release that stored energy as visible light. Systems that exhibit phosphorescence rather than fluorescent are those that have special high-energy states that have enormous difficulty radiating away energy as light. Finally, triboluminescence is the emission of light from a surface experiencing sliding friction. Since sliding friction introduces energy into the surfaces that are sliding across one another, it's possible for that energy to be emitted as light.

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