Where Does Photoluminescent Pigment Come From?

Phosphorescence is a form of photoluminescence where the material re-emits absorbed energy at a much slower rate than items with fluorescent properties. It involves specific energy transitions researched as part of quantum mechanics and allows an object to glow for several hours without intensity being tremendously affected. This property has been added to toys, safety items, and general consumer products for numerous years by means of various forms starting with Radium in the early years to the more recent application of strontium aluminate. Phosphorescence  is a physical process where a substance absorbs energy from its surroundings to release it in a slower time frame as light. The storing process is often referred to as charging and remittance occurs less frequently as opposed to items with fluorescent properties. This process involves the absorption and release of light photons stored by a specially designed photoluminescent pigment made of either zinc sulfide or strontium aluminate.

The Discovery of a New Phosphor Element

Ancient Chinese writings were the first to account of self-luminous characteristics through the telling of the natural transition in organisms such as fireflies. It was not until 1669 that Hennig Brand was able to isolate phosphorus for the first time. The original self-luminous products were created with Radium; however, a realization of the dangers of using a highly radioactive material in products caused many to seek alternative ways to create photoluminescent properties.  Adair Crawford discovered the significance of strontium ores in the lead mines of a Scottish village named Strontian in 1790. The found mineral was later named Strontites by a Glasgow chemistry professor named Thomas Charles Hope. It was first applied during the production of sugar in the mid-1800’s prior to the outbreak of World War II with the Germans continuing to use generated strontium hydroxide into the twentieth century. Strontium is a naturally occurring mineral and ranks fifteenth in abundance among all minerals found on the planet. It consists of four basic stable isotopes in addition to sixteen unstable isotopes and is most well-known for its radiogenic characteristics. Since its discovery, Strontium has been used to create the red coloring in fireworks, in metal alloys, and for neuron related scientific studies.

Understanding the Worth of Strontium Aluminate

Every product today contains a phosphor, typically zinc sulfide or strontium aluminate, as part of their element makeup. The latest phosphor addition is used to create a powder called strontium aluminate for generating photoluminescent properties. This odorless powder is not flammable and weighs more than water. In its individual form, the powder is chemically inert; however, it can be combined with a doping agent to induce glow-in-the-dark characteristics. It delivers increased effectiveness over the previous application of zinc sulfide averaging ten times in both brightness and supplied glowing period. Strontium aluminate has become the preferred photoluminescent pigment choice because it is non-toxic, reliable, and offers the longest glowing timeframe. It is applied to metals or plastics to create self-luminous safety items for fire and building egress identification. The ability to use this natural mineral to create an inorganic pigment with self-luminous qualities that is safe for the environment has increased the importance of this discovery.

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