What is fluorescence?

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Fluorescence refers to a state wherein light is emitted by a substance in response to the presence of photons. Photons are the particles that are able to produce light and when they are excited, the substance involved will be able to emit light making it acquire the property of fluorescence. Whenever light is glowing from a substance, it is said to be a property of fluorescence.

The property of fluorescence is the reason why “fluorescent” lamps are so-called as they are. This same property may also be applied to glow sticks that also emit light at different colors. Fluorescent light is produced at very low temperatures compared to incandescent light. When a person touches the fluorescent lamp or bulb for example, there isn’t much heat generated by this particular object. In contrast is the amount of heat generated by incandescent bulbs which produce or emit light through a different process. In fluorescent light, once the energy source is available, the photons will be excited at low temperatures to produce glowing light.

Aside from the practical and popular fluorescent light bulbs or lamps the property of fluorescence is also present in other objects and substances. In the field of forensics for example, DNA visualization is often assisted with the use of ethidium bromide which emits an orange light when exposed to UV light. This particular substance literally binds to DNA and helps scientists visualize them more efficiently because of fluorescence. The same forensic technology also makes use of the fluorescent properties of some body fluids like blood and semen when it comes to solving crimes. With the help of UV or ultraviolet light, these body fluids will be able to emit light which aids investigators in a certain crime scene. Other fields such as mineralogy, biology, and gemology also make use of the fluorescent property of some substances for various purposes.

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