Photoluminescence (abbreviated as PL) is a process in which a substance absorbs photons (electromagnetic radiation) and then re-radiates photons. Quantum mechanically, this can be described as an excitation to a higher energy state and then a return to a lower energy state accompanied by the emission of a photon. This is one of many forms of luminescence (light emission) and is distinguished by photoexcitation (excitation by photons), hence the prefix photo-. The period between absorption and emission is typically extremely short, in the order of 10 nanoseconds. Under special circumstances, however, this period can be extended into minutes or hours.
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