How incandescent light bulbs create light

  • Thread starter Yaus Man
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  • #1
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I'm looking at how incandescent light bulbs create light in a more in depth manner, not just "filament gets hot and it glows". I want to know the actual science in an atomic level.

I have been researching through books and the internet, and have yet to come to a conclusion whether the light from a tungsten incandescent light bulb comes from:

a) The current passing through with a high voltage gives energy to electrons to jump to a higher energy level, and drops back down to ground state, spontaneously emitting photons (visible light).

or

b) Incandescence, simply due to the high temperature, which meant that the tungsten radiates some visible light instead of only infrared.

or

c) Both?

I am really confused by all these information, some saying it's (a), some say it's (b).
 

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  • #2
Bystander
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b) Incandescence, simply due to the high temperature,
A continuous spectrum;
higher energy level, and drops back down to ground state
A line spectrum; which makes sense?
 
  • #3
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A continuous spectrum;

A line spectrum; which makes sense?
So are you saying it's both? Both are responsible for producing light?

Thanks a lot I really appreciate your reply.
 
  • #4
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Do you see any hint of a line spectrum from an incandescent lamp? Compare it to a CFL --- look at them alongside one another through beveled glass.
 
  • #5
DrClaude
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So are you saying it's both?
No. He's asking you what you think the spectrum of light looks like.

Consider this quote from the FAQ https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/do-photons-move-slower-in-a-solid-medium.511177/ [Broken]
Do Photons Move Slower in a Solid Medium?
When atoms and molecules form a solid, they start to lose most of their individual identity and form a "collective behavior" with other atoms. It is as the result of this collective behavior that one obtains a metal, insulator, semiconductor, etc. Almost all of the properties of solids that we are familiar with are the results of the collective properties of the solid as a whole, not the properties of the individual atoms.
 
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  • #6
Drakkith
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So are you saying it's both? Both are responsible for producing light?
Both would be responsible to some degree, but incandescence is overwhelmingly dominant in a light bulb.
 

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