The first step is essentially conventional chemistry producing the key intermediate (K1). The second step is the critical excitation process where the chemical energy of K1 is converted and transferred to electronic excitation energy in a separate fluorescent chemical molecule (fluorescer). The third step is conventional fluorescent emission.
+H202à + 2ROH
The critical feature in the process of course, is the structure of the key intermediate. Its efficiency is believed to result in part from its high energy content, its ability to release its energy instantaneously through a concerted peroxide decomposition reaction, the quantum mechanical reluctance of a small molecule like carbon dioxide to accept a large amount of chemical energy as heat, and the inability of carbon dioxide itself to become electronically excited by the available energy.