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Try This: Explore Fluorescence Using Turmeric


Try This: Explore Fluorescence Using Turmeric

No matter how old you are, there’s just something cool about seeing things fluoresce under ultraviolet light. If you have two minutes, a black light, some turmeric, and rubbing alcohol, you have all you need to delight your eyes like you’ve never expected!

Try This: Explore Fluorescence Using Turmeric

Here’s what you need:

  • Turmeric
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • A clear glass
  • A UV light


Here’s what to do:

Pour a small amount of isopropyl alcohol into a clear glass. Drop in a small amount of turmeric. Hold the ultraviolet light over the glass and shut off all other lights in the room.

What’s happening:

Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical compound that gives turmeric its color. It is not soluble in water, but is in alcohol. Electrons in the curcumin molecule absorb the energy from the ultraviolet light and moves to a more excited state. Some of this energy is lost as vibrational energy. When the electrons return to their previous state, a yellowish green glow is emitted as visible light.