Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

Other Spectroscopy

What is fluorescence?

Fluorescence is a process by which molecules that have absorbed light can re-emit light to release some of the energy they absorbed. For fluorescence to take place, a molecule must first absorb a photon of light, which causes an electron to be excited to a higher energy level. At the same time, this process will typically also cause some vibrational excitations to take place. Some of the energy associated with this absorption will be given off through relaxation of the excited vibrational energy levels. For fluorescence to occur, the electronic excitation relaxes by emitting a photon of light. Some of the energy was dissipated as the vibrational energy levels relaxed, so the photon that is emitted has less energy than the photon that was initially absorbed. Remember that less energy means a lower frequency, so the photons that are emitted have a lower frequency than those that were absorbed.


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