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Luminophores can be divided into two subcategories: fluorophores and phosphors. The difference between these two subcategories is derived from the nature of the excited state responsible for the emission of photons. Some luminophores, however, cannot be classified as being exclusively fluorophores or phosphors and exist in the gray area in between. Such cases include transition metal complexes (such as ruthenium tris-2,2'-bipyridine), whose luminescence comes from an excited (nominally triplet) metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT) state, but which is not a true triplet-state in the strict sense of the definition; and colloidal quantum dots, whose emissive state does not have either a purely singlet or triplet spin.
Most luminophores consist of conjugated pi systems or transition metal complexes. There exist purely inorganic luminophores, such as zinc sulfide doped with rare earth metal ions, rare earth metal oxysulfides doped with other rare earth metal ions, yttrium oxide doped with rare earth metal ions, zinc orthosilicate doped with manganese ions, etc. Luminophores can be observed in action in fluorescent lights, television screens, computer monitor screens, organic light-emitting diodes and bioluminescence.
The correct, textbook terminology is luminophore, not lumophore, although the latter term has been frequently but erroneously used in the chemical literature.
- Kricka, Larry J. (2003), Optical Methods: A Guide to the "Escences", American Association for Clinical Chemistry, p. 110, ISBN 1890883913.