Fructose kaleidoscope

How to make a fructose kaleidoscope

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Warn­ing! Only un­der adult su­per­vi­sion.


  • 200 g fruc­tose;
  • 50 mL hot wa­ter;
  • heat re­sis­tant jug;
  • glass;
  • flash­light;
  • cof­fee fil­ter;
  • 2 po­lar­iz­ing fil­ters.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Dis­solve 200 g of fruc­tose in 50 mL of hot wa­ter in a heat-re­sis­tant jug. If the fruc­tose doesn't dis­solve read­i­ly, heat the so­lu­tion in a wa­ter bath. Pour the re­sult­ing vis­cous so­lu­tion into a glass. Take a flash­light and trim a pa­per cof­fee fil­ter to fit just in­side its glass cov­er – this will serve to dif­fuse the light it emits. Ar­range the ob­jects in the fol­low­ing se­quence: flash­light, po­lar­iz­ing fil­ter, fruc­tose so­lu­tion, po­lar­iz­ing fil­ter. Just turn the flash­light on and watch the col­ors in the glass swirl and change as you ro­tate the fil­ter clos­est to you!

Process de­scrip­tion

In ad­di­tion to col­or and in­ten­si­ty, light has a prop­er­ty in­vis­i­ble to the naked eye known as po­lar­iza­tion. Po­lar­iza­tion de­ter­mines the ori­en­ta­tion of the vi­bra­tions of waves such as light. Sun­light or light from a light bulb is said to be “un­po­lar­ized” – its waves are po­lar­ized ran­dom­ly in all ori­en­ta­tions. A po­lar­iz­ing fil­ter se­lects for just one di­rec­tion of po­lar­iza­tion. Two po­lar­iz­ing fil­ters work­ing in tan­dem will let through dif­fer­ent amounts of light de­pend­ing on how they are po­si­tioned rel­a­tive to each oth­er. The fruc­tose so­lu­tion af­fects the di­rec­tion of po­lar­iza­tion of the light pass­ing through it – and it even changes the po­lar­iza­tions of dif­fer­ent col­ors of light dif­fer­ent­ly. Thus, the light is po­lar­ized by the first fil­ter, en­ters the fruc­tose so­lu­tion, changes its po­lar­iza­tion at dif­fer­ent rates de­pend­ing on col­or, and then hits the sec­ond fil­ter, which only lets through col­ors with a suit­able po­lar­iza­tion. The scat­tered rays of light trav­el dif­fer­ent dis­tances, cre­at­ing cool col­ored pat­terns!

Cool ex­per­i­ments await you in the MEL Physics sub­scrip­tion!