Polarized light mosaic

Use your imagination and physics to create a stunning work of art!

20 minutes


  • Carefully review the general safety advice on the back of the box cover before starting the experiment.
  • Disassemble the setup after the experiment.

Step-by-step instructions

As a matter of fact, sticky tape is stretched during manufacture, which aligns the molecules in the tape along its length. This causes a piece of sticky tape to be evenly colored in polarized light.


Using different angles and different numbers of layers, you can create all sorts of new colors.


Make a plastic masterpiece with your own design!



Dispose of solid waste together with household garbage.

Scientific description

Plastic objects placed between two polarization filters change colors haphazardly. But is there a way to control this change? As you saw in the previous experiment, the colors depend on the direction the molecules in the plastic stretch.

The molecules in sticky tape are aligned along its length because the tape is stretched during manufacture. So all you have to do to change the color of a piece of tape  is rotate it. Two pieces of tape placed at different angles relative to each other will have different colors . Sticking several pieces of tape on top of one another at different angles (criss-crossed) is another way to get new colors. The sky’s the limit to your creativity!

Since polarization can help remove glare from water and other reflective objects by blocking some of the photons, which form partially polarized reflected light, professional photographers often attach polarizing filters to their camera lenses. Using a polarizing filter with your camera makes photos look more natural.

A polarizing filter’s ability to let only some light through has found another application as well—in the 3D glasses that we use in movie theaters. Each of the two lenses in a pair of 3D glasses allows your eye to see only some of the photons coming from the screen. The light streaming from the screen must be properly polarized for 3D glasses to create a three-dimensional image.