Saturday, May 23, 2009

History of Phosphorescence

Phosphorescence makes many things “glow in the dark.”  It puzzled many everyday people when it was first encountered.  Although it was first seen in the seventeenth century, it was only until the nineteenth century that it was carefully studied (8). Philipp Lenard developed the currently used model.  As a boy in Hungary, Lenard played with fluorescent materials.  Later, he moved on to attend a university and develop his model.  He tried to equate phosphorescence with fluorescence and noticed something that went against the current thinking.  He developed a new explanation and published it in his theory of electron excitation and luminescence.  His theory was published in 1902, but it was not until 1905, when Einstein developed the idea of photons, that Lenard’s theory could be explained.  Lenard went on to win the Nobel Prize for a topic related to phosphorescence (8). 

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