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Angelo Albini[1]

Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Pavia, via Taramelli 12, 27100 Pavia, Italy.

Luminescence, emission of light, usually defined as restricted to cold body emission, not caused by heath (that is rather called incandescence), upon occurring of a chemical or physical phenomenon. This term was first used by Q. C. Lum in 1888 [1], when studying systematically the emission(s) of (mainly organic) materials, and defined as follows "I would like to propose for this second type of exploiting light, for which we have not yet a name, propose the name of luminescence, and to tag the bodies that give light in such a way luminescent." Various types of luminescence are distinguished according to the mechanism involved [2-4], viz.

1. Chemical Excitation

  • Chemoluminescence - luminescence caused by the occurring of a chemical reaction [5-8],
  • Bioluminescence - luminescence caused by the occurring of a biochemical reaction in the cells [8],
  • Electrochemicalluminescence - luminescence caused by the occurring of an electrochemical reaction [9-10].

2. Physical Excitation

  • Lyoluminecence - luminescence occurring upon dissolving a solid in a liquid [11],
  • Candoluminecence - luminescence occurring upon heating, but different from incandescence (thus, the emission differs from the blackbody emission at that temperature) [10, 12],
  • Crystallochemiluminescence - luminescence occurring upon crystallization of a compound [13],
  • Mechanoluminescence - (or essentially with the same meaning, triboluminescence or fractonochemiluminescence), luminescence occurring when exerting a mechanical action (scratching, rubbing, crushing) on a solid material [14],
  • Piezoluminescence - luminescence occurring upon exerting a pressure on a solid material [15],
  • Sonoluminescence - luminescence occurring when bubbles are caused to implode in a liquid, through the action of a sound [24],
  • Photoluminescence - emission of light upon absorption of light of a different (and generally shorter) wavelength, distinguished in fluorescence, phosphorescence and Raman emission, see the corresponding lemma),
  • Thermoluminescence - re-emission of light previously absorbed, different from black-body emission [21],
  • Cryolumiescence - luminescence occurring upon cooling a material [23],
  • Radioluminscence - luminescence occurring upon hitting a material by ionizing (short wavelength) radiation [22].


[1] Lum Q. C., Über Fluorescenz und Phosphorescenz, I. Abhandlung, Annalen der Physik, 34: 446-463.

[2] Valeur B, Berberan Santos BN, A Brief History of Fluorescence and Phosphorescence before the Emergence of Quantum Theory, J. Chem. Educ., 2011, 88, 731–73.[2]

[3] Murthy, K. V. R.; Virk, H. S, Luminescence phenomena: an introduction, Defect and Diffusion Forum, 2013, 347, 1-34.

[4] Newton Harvey E, A History of Luminescence: From the Earliest Times until 1900, American Phys. Society, 1900.[3]

[5] Fereya TH, Hymete A, Gnesaran A, A Recent Review on Chemiluminescence Reaction, Principle and Application on Pharmaceutical Analysis, ISRN Spectroscopy, 2013, 230858, 12 pages.

[6] Dodeigne C, Thunus L, Lejeune R, Chemiluminescence as diagnostic tool. A review., Talanta, 2000, 513:415-439.

[7] Paley PA, Prescher JA, Bioluminescence: a versatile technique for imaging cellular and molecular features, Med. Chem. Commun., 2014, 5, 255-267.

[8] Kirschbaum SE, Baeumner AJ, A review of electrochemiluminescence (ECL) in and for microfluidic analytical devices, Anal Bioanal Chem. 2015, 407:3911-26.

[9] Mark M. Richter, Electrochemiluminescence, Chem. Rev., 2004, 104, 3003–3036.

[10] White, William B., Photoluminescence, candoluminescence, and radical recombination luminescence of minerals, ACS Symposium Series, 1989, 415 (Spectrosc. Charact. Miner. Their Surf.),118-34.

[11] Reynolds, G. T., Lyoluminescence, Journal of Luminescence 1992, 54,43-69.

[12] Gus'kov, A. P., Nekrasova, L. P. Gornakova, A. S.; Shikunova, I. A., Crystallochemiluminescence in solution, Crystallography Reports, 2014, 59,758-761.

[13] Lopez-de-Luzuriaga, Jose M.; Monge, Miguel; Olmos, M. Elena, Luminescent aryl-group eleven metal complexes, Dalton Transactions, 2017, 46, 2046-2067.

[14] Fontenot, R S.; Bhat, Kamala N.; Hollerman W A, Aggarwal, M D.(Ed) Moustafa, M S A, Highly triboluminescent europium dibenzoylmethide triethylammonium, Europium, 2013, 85-160.

[15] Sun Q, Mosquera-Vazquez S, Suffren, Yan Hankache, J, Amstutz N, Lawson D, Latevi M Vauthey E, Hauser A, On the role of ligand-field states for the photophysical properties of ruthenium(II) polypyridyl complexes, Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 2015, 282-283, 87-99.

[16] Hainschwang T; Karampelas S Fritsch, E, Notari F, Luminescence spectroscopy and microscopy applied to study gem materials: a case study of C centre containing diamonds, Mineralogy and Petrology, 2013, 107, 393-413.

[17] Lopez-Estopier R, Aceves-Mijares M; Falcony C, Cathodo- and photo- luminescence of silicon rich oxide films obtained by LPCVD, Cathodoluminescence, 2012, 253-272.

[18] Kodera, Y.; Hardin, C. L.; Garay, J. E., Transmitting, emitting and controlling light: Processing of transparent ceramics using current-activated pressure-assisted densification, Scripta Materialia, 2013, 69, 149-154.

[19] Juliano P, Augustin M A, Xu XQ, Mawson R, Knoerzer, Kai, Advances in high frequency ultrasound separation of particulates from biomass, Ultrasonics-Sonochemistry, 2017, 35(Part_B), 577-590.

[20] Yin H; Qiao Y, Cao, Hua W, Mingxi, AIP Conference Proceedings, 2017, 181, 030056/1-/5.

[21] King G E, Guralnik B, Valla P G, Herman, F, Trapped-charge thermochronometry and thermometry: A status review, Chemical Geology, 2016, 446, 3-17.

[22] Bailiff I. K., Sholom S., McKeever, S. W. S., Retrospective and emergency dosimetry in response to radiological incidents and nuclear mass-casualty events: A review, Radiation Measurements, 2016, 94, 83-139.

[23] Jaszczyn-Kopec P, Kalmann H, Kramer B, Cryoluminescence of ZnS, Phys. Rev. 165, 901-1968 24 Borisenok VA, Sonoluminescence: Experiments and models (Review), Nature Acoust. Phys., 2015, 61: 308.

[25] Shindl KN, Dhoble S.J., Swart H.C., Park K., Phosphate Phosphors for Solid-State Lighting, 41 Springer Series in Materials Science, 174.

[26] King MT, Carpenter CM, Sun C, Ma X, Le QT, Sunwoo JB, Cheng Z, Pratx G, Xing L, β-Radioluminescence Imaging: A Comparative Evaluation with Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging, J Nucl Med., 2015, Sep;56,1458-64.

[27] Tadepalli S, Slocik J M., Gupta M K, Naik, Rajesh R.; Singamaneni, Srikanth, Bio optics and bioinspired optical materials, Chem Rev 117.

[28] Shamsipur, Mojtaba; Barati, Ali; Karami, Sara, Long-wavelength, multicolor, and white-light emitting carbon-based dots: Achievements made, challenges remaining, and applications, Carbon, 2017, 124, 429-47.

[29] Pedley JB, Naylor RD, Kirby SP Thermochemical Data of Organic Compounds, 1986 Chapman& Hall, London.