Glow sticks By: Bridget Pyryt & Rebecca Matmon What is a glow stick? A glow stick is a self-contained, short-term lightsource. In order to activate a lightstick, you bend the plastic stick, which breaks the glass vial. After that, the light cannot be turned off, and can be used only once. Glow sticks are often used for recreation, but may also be relied upon for light during military, police, fire, or EMS operations. What makes them work? Light is generated by a chemical reaction called “chemiluminescence". Typical glow sticks as chemical reactants use: a hydrogen peroxide solution which is called the "activator", a solution of phenyl oxalate ester and a fluorescent dye which makes the color. The activator is stored in a thin glass capsule. When the glass capsule is broken by flexing a glow stick, the activator is released, and mixing the components by shaking the glow stick to initiate the reaction. Depending on components used, the chemical reaction can last from a few minutes to many hours. Heating the glow sticks will speed up the reaction, but will shorten the glow time. http://www.glowstickfactory.com/pages/Glow-Stick-FAQ.html How does it work? The chemical reaction in a light stick usually involves several different steps. A typical commercial light stick holds a hydrogen peroxide solution and a solution containing a phenyl oxalate ester and a fluorescent dye. Here's the sequence of events when the two solutions are combined: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The hydrogen peroxide oxidizes the phenyl oxalate ester, resulting in a chemical called phenol and an unstable peroxyacid ester. The unstable peroxyacid ester decomposes, resulting in additional phenol and a cyclic peroxy compound. The cyclic peroxy compound decomposes to carbon dioxide. This decomposition releases energy to the dye. The electrons in the dye atoms jump to a higher level, then fall back down, releasing energy in the form of light. http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/everydayinnovations/light-stick1.htm History • The idea of glow sticks originally came from the idea of fireflies. Fireflies create their own light during mating season and it was later learned that they are using a chemical called luciferin as a fuel source. • A young chemist name Edwin A. Chandros of Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey first invented chemical luminescence in 1960. He conducted lots of researches to imitate fireflies and look for ways on how to produce mankind’s own light source. The glow stick was about to be born! http://candlebags.hubpages.com/hub/history-glow-sticks Elements There are three components of a lightstick. There need to be two chemicals that interact to release energy and also a fluorescent dye to accept this energy and convert it into light. • Hydrogen peroxide • Phenyl oxalate ester • Fluorescent dye (Specific fluorescent dyes must be added to the light sticks to release a certain colored light) Blue 9,10-diphenylanthracene Green 9,10-Bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene Yellow 1-chloro-9,10-bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene Rubrene Yellow-Green Yellow Orange 5,12-bis(phenylethynyl)-naphthacene Rhodamine 6G Yellow-Orange Orange Red Rhodamine B Although red fluorophors such as Rhodamine B are available, red-emitting light sticks tend not to use them in the oxalate reaction. The red fluorophors are not very stable when stored with the other chemicals in the light sticks. Instead, a fluorescent red pigment is molded into the plastic tube that encases the light stick chemicals. The red-emitting pigment absorbs the light from the high yield (bright) yellow reaction and re-emits it as red. This results in a red light stick that is approximately twice as bright as it would have been had the light stick used the red fluorophor in the solution. http://chemistry.about.com/library/weekly/aa031703a.htm Common Questions? How long do they last? Glow in the dark products will glow 5 to 12 hours, depending on size, color, type and the ambient air temperature. How to store light sticks? Glow sticks should be stored in a cool dry place, in their original packaging, away from direct sunlight. Heat and humidity will shorten their life span. Does temperature affect the glow time? Yes, it does. Higher temperatures will make glow stick glow brighter but will shorten the glow time. With lower temperatures the glow will be a little bit duller but will glow for a longer period of time. Glowsticks give maximum bright light when used at temperatures ranging from 59°F-100°F. If the temperature is higher than 100°F, bright light will be at the maximum but the length of glow will decrease. If less than 59°F, bright light will be minimal but the length of glow will be increased http://www.glowstickfactory.com/pages/Glow-Stick-FAQ.html What happens if I get the chemicals on my clothes? With normal use this is not an issue, but if you happen to puncture the outer tube and get fluid on your clothes simply wash with warm soapy water. In case of accidental spillage: * Skin/Body - wash affected area with water. * Clothing - Wash stained area with warm soapy water and allow soaking for 24 hrs if stain remains dry cleaning is advised. * Contact with skin or eyes may cause temporary discomfort. It is not recommended for products be broken or liquid poured onto skin. Our products are safe for all users though we recommend that children under 5 must have adult supervision. Do not puncture or split open.