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What is Phosphor?

A phosphor, most generally, is a substance that exhibits the phenomenon of luminescence; it glows when exposed to some type of radiant energy. The term is used both for fluorescent or phosphorescent substances which glow on exposure to ultraviolet or visible light, and cathodoluminescent substances which glow when struck by an electron beam (cathode rays) in a cathode ray tube. When a phosphor is exposed to radiation, the orbital electrons in its molecules are excited to a higher energy level; when they return to their former level they emit the energy as light of a certain color. Phosphors can be classified as fluorescent substances which emit the energy immediately and stop glowing when the exciting radiation is turned off, or phosphorescent substances which store energy and keep glowing after the radiation is turned off, decaying in brightness over a period of milliseconds to days. Fluorescent materials are used in applications in which the exiting radiation is continuous: cathode ray tubes (CRT) and plasma video display screens, fluoroscope screens, fluorescent lights, sensors, and white LEDs, and luminous paints for black light art. Phosphorescent materials are used where a persistent light is needed, such as glow-in-the-dark watch faces and aircraft instruments, and in radar screens to allow the target 'blips' to remain visible as the radar beam rotates. CRT phosphors were standardized beginning around World War II and designated by the letter "P" followed by a number. Phosphorus, the light-emitting chemical element for which phosphors are named, emits light due to chemiluminescence, not phosphorescence. Phosphors are often transition-metal compounds or rare-earth compounds of various types. In inorganic phosphors, these inhomogeneities in the crystal structure are created usually by addition of a trace amount of dopants, impurities called activators. (In rare cases dislocations or other crystal defects can play the role of the impurity.) The wavelength emitted by the emission center is dependent on the atom itself and on the surrounding crystal structure. The scintillation process in inorganic materials is due to the electronic band structure found in the crystals. An incoming particle can excite an electron from the valence band to either the conduction band or the exciton band (located just below the conduction band and separated from the valence band by an energy gap). This leaves an associated hole behind, in the valence band. Impurities create electronic levels in the forbidden gap. The excitons are loosely bound electron–hole pairs that wander through the crystal lattice until they are captured as a whole by impurity centers. The latter then rapidly de-excite by emitting scintillation light (fast component). In the case of inorganic scintillators, the activator impurities are typically chosen so that the emitted light is in the visible range or near-UV, where photomultipliers are effective. The holes associated with electrons in the conduction band are independent from the latter. Those holes and electrons are captured successively by impurity centers exciting certain metastable states not accessible to the excitons. The delayed de-excitation of those metastable impurity states, slowed by reliance on the low-probability forbidden mechanism, again results in light emission (slow component).

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display technologylightingluminescenceoptical materialphosphors and scintillator


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     — Date merged: 2/4/2022, 5:45:36 PM
     — Date scraped: 5/20/2021, 4:32:46 PM