Fluorescence is light emission that can occur when an electron decays from a higher electronic energy state of an atom, ion or molecule to an unfilled lower energy state. Fluorescence is also called spontaneous emission.

The Jablonski energy level diagram below shows fluorescence emission from an excited electronic state to the ground electronic state of a material. Vibrational states are not shown in the diagram. Fluorescence emission may compete with non-radiative processes such as internal conversion or intersystem crossing from singlet to triplet states. Fluorescence decays are a result of “allowed” electronic transitions and typical fluorescence lifetimes are usually on the order of a few nanoseconds.

radiative relaxation

See also: Phosphorescence, Relaxation.

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