We’re diving deep to teach you how different light sources produce light. This information can help you when you’re choosing lights for a new lighting project or maintaining the lights you already have. If you’ve ever tried researching this information, you know it can get overwhelming and complicated. So, I’m going to simplify it for you. In this post we’re covering fluorescent light bulbs…
Though the various kinds of fluorescent light bulbs look very different, the way they function is fundamentally the same.
Fluorescent light bulbs contain the following:
- Mercury vapor
- Electrodes, wired to an electrical circuit
- A glass envelope with a white phosphor coating on the inside
Pretty simple, right? Now let’s look at how these elements work together to make light:
1. When you turn on the lamp, electrical current flows through the electrodes. Electrons pass back and forth in the tube.
2. The electrons excite the mercury vapor in the tube, bumping the atoms’ electrons to higher levels. This causes the mercury to emit UV photons, or UV light, invisible to the human eye.
3. The phosphor coating converts UV light into visible light. This happens when a UV photon collides with a phosphor atom, bumping one of the phosphor electrons to a higher energy level, and heating up the atom. When the electron falls back to its normal level, it releases energy as a visible photon – the light you see.