Schulman, James H. Formerly, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC.
- Glow curves
- Links to Primary Literature
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The emission of light when certain solids are warmed, generally to a temperature lower than that needed to provoke visible incandescence. Two characteristics of thermoluminescence distinguish it from incandescence. First, the intensity of thermoluminescent emission does not remain constant at constant temperature, but decreases with time and eventually ceases altogether. Second, the spectrum of the thermoluminescence is highly dependent on the composition of the material and is only slightly affected by the temperature of heating. If a thermoluminescent material emits both thermoluminescence and incandescent light at some temperature of observation, the transient light emission is the thermoluminescence and the remaining steady-state emission is the incandescence. The transient nature of the thermoluminescent emission suggests that heating merely triggers the release of stored energy previously imparted to the material. Supporting this interpretation is the fact that after the thermoluminescence has been reduced to zero by heating, the sample can be made thermoluminescent again by exposure to one of a number of energy sources: x-rays and gamma rays, electron beams, nuclear particles, ultraviolet light, and, in some cases, even short-wave visible light (violet and blue). A thermoluminescent material, therefore, has a memory of its earlier exposure to an energizing source, and this memory is utilized in a number of applications. Many natural minerals are thermoluminescent, but the most efficient materials of this type are specially formulated synthetic solids (phosphors). See also: Luminescence
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