Ce3+-doped Y3Al5O12 garnet (yttrium aluminum garnet,YAG) is the most prominent phosphor in w-LEDs. The excellent thermal quenching behavior of the Ce3+ luminescence in YAG:Ce3+ is well established, but the mechanism for thermal quenching remains unclear. To elucidate the mechanism of thermal quenching of YAG:Ce3+, thermoluminescence excitation (TLE) spectra were recorded at room temperature and 300 °C. At room temperature, the lowest 5d1 band at 450 nm does not contribute to the charging process for TL while at 300 °C, a temperature corresponding to the onset of thermal quenching of the Ce3+ luminescence, the excitation in 5d1 band gives rise to a TL signal. This result indicates that thermal ionization is responsible for thermal quenching of the Ce3+luminescence.
We also investigated the thermal quenching process for calcium aluminum magnetoplumbite, CaAl12O19, doped with Mn4+ (CAO:Mn4+), which is narrow red luminescence phosphor. We tried to understand the quenching mechanism of Mn4+ compared with the luminescence quenching properties of Mn2+. From the temperature dependence of Mn4+: 2E-4A2 red luminescence and Mn2+:4T1-6A1 green luminescence intensities in CaAl12O19, the quenching temperatures of Mn4+ and Mn2+ are 330K and 800K, respectively. There is a big difference between the quenching temperatures of Mn4+ and Mn2+ in spite of the same host material and the similar luminescence transtion energy. The Mn4+:2E-4A2 red luminescence is quenched by the thermally activated crossover through the 4T2 excited state whose potential curve possesses a large configurational offset in a configurational coordinate diagram. Mn2+ green luminescence is also quenched by the thermally activated crossover, but the activation energy for non-radiative process is much larger than that for Mn4+ because there are no other excited states related with the quenching process.