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electroluminescence

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Electroluminescence is a characteristic of a material, typically a semiconductor, that enables it to emit light in response to an electrical current or a strong electrical field.

The process behind electroluminescence is radiative recombination, also known as spontaneous emission. In radiative recombination, phosphorescent substances emit photons (light particles) in response to a small electrical current. Applications of electroluminescence include nightlights and automobile dashboard displays.

Other types of light generation include:

  • Incandescence, which occurs as a result of heat. 
  • Chemiluminescence, which occurs as a result of a chemical reaction. 
  • Sonoluminescence, which occurs as a result of sound. 
  • Mechanoluminescencether, which occurs as a result of a mechanical action.

 

This was last updated in December 2012

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