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Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences

Research Group Luminescence

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Luminescence, from latin lumen = light / glow

Luminescence describes the emission of light (photons) of a material independently of the heat radiation, and is therefore also referred to as "cold light". Luminescence can be caused, for example, by chemical reactions, mechanical energy or by ionizing radiation (radioactive decay). Particular forms of luminescence are the fluorescence and the phosphorescence, which differ from one another at the time of light emission: in the case of fluorescence, the light emission takes place immediately after the stimulation (external energy supply), in the case of phosphorescence after a certain time, and in some cases also longer .

Some historical facts on luminescence

  • 5th cent. BC    Herodotus, Aristotle & Pliny describe luminous effects of crystals
  • around 1280    Albertus Magnus describes the glow of a heated diamond
  • 1895                E. Wiedemann and G. Schmidt observe that luminescence can be induced by ionizing radiation
                            and stimulated by heat. The scientific term "thermoluminescence" was born
  • around 1940    Development of the secondary electron multiplier (PMT = photon multiplier)
  • 1953                Daniels, Boyd & Sounders, work on TL dosimetry and proposals for the use in archaeological
                            and geological age determination
  • 1958                Grögler et al. first TL dating of pottery
  • 1968 - 1979     Morozov, Wintle & Huntley, first TL dating on sediments
  • 1985                Huntley et al. First OSL dating on sediments
  • 1988                Hütt et al. first IRSL dating on feldspars of sediments
  • 2000                Murray & Wintle develop the SAR protocol

Depending on the stimulation, the following types of luminescence are known:

  • Electroluminescence:    Stimulation by electricity (LEDs or OLEDs)
  • Cathodoluminescence:  Stimulation takes place by bombardment with electrons (Braun's tube / TV screen).
  • Photoluminescence:      The system is stimulated by photons
  • Chemoluminescence:    Stimulation by a chemical reaction (light rods)
  • Bioluminescence:          Stimulation by a chemical reaction in living organisms (light beetles)
  • Triboluminescence:       Stimulation  by mechanical action, e.g. pressure or friction
  • Thermoluminescence:   Stimulation by heat supply
  • Sonoluminescence:       Stimulation by sound waves in liquids
  • Crystalloluminescence  Stimulation occurs during the crystallization process of individual materials
  • Radioluminescence:      Stimulation takes place by irradiation with alpha or beta radiation or by X-rays.

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