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  1. C. Fouassier

Published Online: 15 DEC 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781119951438.eibc0114

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Fouassier, C. 2011. Luminescence. Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. Institut de Chimie de la Matière Condensée (ICMCB-CNRS), Pessac cedex, France

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2011


This chapter is devoted to the luminescence of inorganic compounds. Luminescence characteristics are strongly host-dependent. This is illustrated by various examples of the influence of covalency, crystal field, phonon energies, and structural features. The chapter is organized as follows.

Section 2 describes the fundamentals of luminescence: probability of electronic transitions, shape of emission bands, quantum efficiency, energy transfer, and factors governing the position of the emitting level (nephelauxetic effect and crystal field splitting).

Section 3 reviews the main families of luminescent ions: transition metal ions, lanthanide ions, and s2 ions. The various types of electronic transitions responsible for the luminescence of transition and lanthanide ions are presented: nd [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] nd, (n + 1)s [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] nd, and charge transfer (CT) transitions for the former, 4f [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] 4f, 5d [RIGHTWARDS ARROW] 4f, and CT transitions for the latter. Data are given on the luminescence wavelength range, excited-state lifetimes, thermal stability, and concentration quenching.

Section 4 deals with donor-acceptor transitions in ZnS.

Section 5 presents the luminescence mechanisms for excitation through the host lattice. Vacuum ultraviolet (VUV), electron beam, X-ray, and γ-ray excitation are considered. The most efficient luminescent materials are given for the various types of excitation.

Section 6 deals with electroluminescent materials.


  • luminescence;
  • cathodoluminescence;
  • phosphor;
  • scintillator