“Homemade luminophore” experiment

How to make a glowing powder at home

It is wide­ly be­lieved that glow­ing pow­ders and mix­tures are at­tributes of ma­gi­cians and wiz­ards. But to­day we will de­bunk an­oth­er myth and tell you how to make mag­ic sand.

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Wear pro­tec­tive gloves, a mass and glass­es, and work in a well-ven­ti­lat­ed room. Ob­serve safe­ty rules when work­ing with flame and very hot ob­jects.

Warn­ing! Only un­der adults su­per­vi­sion.

Reagents and equip­ment:

  • boric acid (5 g);
  • flu­o­res­cein (0.005 g);
  • wa­ter (1 ml);
  • wood­en rod;
  • alu­minum mold from a tea light can­dle;
  • heat­ing de­vice;
  • mor­tar and pes­tle;
  • Petri dish;
  • torch.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Put boric acid and flu­o­res­cein in the mold, add wa­ter and stir thor­ough­ly. Then heat the re­sult­ing mix­ture. Heat­ing must be car­ried out care­ful­ly, with reg­u­lar stir­ring. As the mix­ture heats, wa­ter will grad­u­al­ly evap­o­rate, and it will melt and turn to a glass-like mass. Af­ter cool­ing, move the mix­ture to a mor­tar and crush thor­ough­ly. Move the re­sult­ing pow­der to a Petri dish, turn off the light and shine the torch on it. Watch it glow in the dark.

Pro­cess­es de­scrip­tion

On heat­ing, boric acid par­tial­ly los­es wa­ter, turn­ing into a mix­ture of boric acids and boric ox­ide:

H3BO₃ = H₂O + HBO₂

4H­BO₂ = H₂O + H₂B4O₇

H₂B₄O₇ = H₂O + 2B₂O₃

With fur­ther heat­ing, the mix­ture melts, turn­ing into a glass-like mass, which is called lu­minophore. Lu­minophore is a sub­stance ca­pa­ble of trans­form­ing ab­sorbed en­er­gy into light ra­di­a­tion. The flu­o­res­cein in lu­minophore plays the role of an ac­ti­va­tor, and fits into the crys­tal lat­tice of prod­ucts of the de­hy­dra­tion of boric acid, caus­ing the boric lu­minophore to glow af­ter it is ir­ra­di­at­ed with light.

The lu­minophore should be kept in a sealed con­tain­er.