Electroluminescence (EL) is an optical phenomenon and electrical phenomenon in which a material emits light in response to an electric current passed through it, or to a strong electric field. This is distinct from light emission resulting from heat (incandescence) from the action of chemicals (chemiluminescence), the action of sound (sonoluminescence), or other mechanical action (mechanoluminescence).
Electroluminescence is the result of radiative recombination of electrons and holes in a material (usually a semiconductor). The excited electrons release their energy as photons - light. Prior to recombination, electrons and holes are separated either as a result of doping of the material to form a p-n junction (in semiconductor electroluminescent devices such as LEDs), or through excitation by impact of high-energy electrons accelerated by a strong electric field (as with the phosphors in electroluminescent displays).