Phosphorus is a very common elements in fluorescent bulbs, and it makes many of the benefits of fluorescent lights possible. Fluorescent lights are energy efficient because of the way energy affects the phosphor coating, and owe their long lives to the resilience and particular chemical qualities of phosphorus.
Fluorescent lights do not use a filament to produce light. Instead, they use an inert gas, usually argon, mixed with a small amount of mercury. A ballast, or electrical device, controls the amount of current that enters the bulb. This electrical current then jumps across the gas, activating it. The atoms of the gas, especially the atoms of mercury, become excited and their electrons rise in energy levels. However, the atom can only maintain the energy for so long, and soon drops back down to a normal energy level, releasing a particle of radiation.Phosphor Coatings
The gas produces only ultraviolet radiation, an invisible and dangerous type of light that is useless for illumination. However, the bulb is coated on the inside with a phosphorescent coating that absorbs all the ultraviolet light created. Like the gas, the atoms of the phosphorus become excited, but instead of UV light they release visible, white light.Use of Phosphorus
Fluorescent bulbs always use a phosphor coating. However, they do not always use phosphorus. Phosphorus is only one type of element in the phosphor family, and several different mixtures are used in fluorescent bulbs. Many mixtures contain at least some phosphorus, but some contain more and some less, while others do not use it at all.
Types of Light
Different phosphorus coatings are used to create different types of light with fluorescent bulbs. Sometimes only a few compounds are changed to help the phosphorus react more easily to the light, but sometimes halophosphate and triphosphors are used to give the light different qualities. Halophosphates provide warm white and cool white phosphors, and do not have much yellow light. Triphosphor coatings produce a warmer type of light that does not distort colors as badly as other types of coating.
The lifespan of fluorescent bulbs depends on the phosphor coating that they use. As the phosphorus is energized, its atoms vibrate off the surface of the bulb. The more atoms that vibrate off, the less light the bulb can produce. Eventually, the bulb cannot create enough light to sustain the cycle and it dies.
Read more: Phosphorus in Fluorescent Lamps | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_6648295_phosphorus-fluorescent-lamps.html#ixzz1TJB7cPQW