To understand how flourescent lamps work,
we first have to talk about how materials can emit light. Every atom and molecule have specific energy
levels, which are the only ones where electrons can
exist. Atoms can absorb energy from many sources
in many ways. In some of the cases, the result of absorption
is a hop from one evergy level to a higher one. The electrons tend to return to a lower level.
A hop to a lowere level is accompanied by emmision of a photon: A light particle.
This is what’s called flourescent light emmision. There are lamps, like neon lamps, which simply
emit the light that’s created in the gas inside. But in flourescent lighting, that’s not the
end of the story. The light created in a flourescent lamp is
ultra-violet. We can’t see U.V. light directly. But if it
hits phosphoric material, as the one flourescent lamps interior are coated with, the phosphoric
material will absorb its energy, and will emit part of it using the same flourescence
process we talked about earlier, as visible light photons. The light emmited by the phosphoric material
is the flourescent lamp lighting.