UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
What is the difference between a spark and Triboluminescence?
Question Date: 2013-10-26
Answer 1:

There are different kinds of sparks, but the spark you mean here is the kind associated with fire (as opposed to electricity). The sparks associated with fire are incandescent particles, which means they emit light because they are hot. These "fire sparks" are a special case of thermal radiation. Electrical sparks, on the other hand, are formed when an electric field creates a channel that is ionized and electrically conductive in the air.

Triboluminescence is a different phenomenon also: light is generated via the breaking of chemical bonds, as opposed to simple heating of the material, as is the case with "fire sparks." These chemical bonds break when some material is ripped, rubbed, scratched, crushed, or pulled apart, and the mechanism is not entirely understood. I hope this helps!

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use