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Chapter 3

Phenomena Involving Absorption of Energy Followed by Emission of Light

This is the longest chapter in the book, and concerns luminescence – the emission of light (colour) after excitation by any other form of energy, including other light sources. The main variants are photo excitation, leading to phosphorescence and fluorescence; cathodoluminescence from electron impact; excitation resulting from high chemical energy species, leading to chemiluminescence and its derivatives bioluminescence and electrochemiluminescence; and direct excitation by an applied electric potential, electroluminescence. Besides these, triboluminescence and pyroluminescence are also mentioned. The molecules and materials which luminesce in response to these stimuli are reviewed. Besides classical dyes and inorganic materials, the coverage is widened to include the increasing interest in nanoparticles, especially based on semi-conductors (“quantum dots”, and silicon and carbon nanotubes); conjugated polymers and dendrimeric constructs; metals and metal ions; and materials and molecules which have been designed to address the increasing attraction of multi-photon absorption. Materials combining two or more of theses features are beginning to make an impact. These chromic phenomena and the materials responsible are used in a some very important technological applications: lighting; displays; various types of analysis, especially in the biomedical area (sensors, imaging, genomics), and in food packaging and in forensics; lasers; conventional colouration and fluorescence brightening; pyrotechnics. Besides the mainstream applications, other interesting and/or emerging technologies such as optical refrigeration and logic-based chemistry are also touched on.

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12 Feb 2010
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