Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Burning Man: How To Make A Glowstick

Ingredients: 2 liters distilled water, 50 milliliters hydrogen peroxide (3 percent concentration), 0.2 gram luminol, 4 grams sodium carbonate, 0.4 gram copper sulfate pentahydrate, 0.5 gram ammonium carbonate. You can order the chemicals online at Science Stuff. 

In a medium-size mixing bowl(fig. 1), add the hydrogen peroxide to 1 liter of water. 

In another bowl, dissolve the luminol, sodium carbonate, copper sulfate, and ammonium carbonate in the second liter of water. 

Lay out a few sealable, clear containers — test tubes with stoppers or Nalgene bottles are good. 

Pour in equal measures of each solution (fig. 2) — and watch with glee as it lights up (fig. 3). The hydrogen peroxide solution oxidizes the luminol, producing 3-amino phthalic acid. As its electrons settle to a more sedate quantum state, they emit photons at wavelengths between 430 and 470 nanometers — purplish blue.

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