MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: where can i find valid info on triboluminescense? Does any on know about it

Date: Wed Apr 8 00:14:50 1998
Posted By: John Christie, Faculty, School of Chemistry, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 891993801.Ch

I must have had more success than you did on the web. Try TriboluminescenceTriboluminescence. These pages came up very straightforwardly with an AltaVista search.

The answer to your second question is "yes".

Seriously, though, triboluminescence is a phenomenon where light is given off when a solid material undergoes friction. Typically it is given off in flashes when crystals fracture. Sucrose (ordinary sugar) is a material that shows the phenomenon. To observe it, get into a very dark place (photographic darkroom or similar) with some crystalline sugar and a mortar and pestle. Wait for your eyes to dark accommodate, and start grinding. You will see blue or greenish blue flashes of light. The American web pages say, as you can see, that wintergreen lifesavers are particularly good at showing triboluminescence. They are a cultural phenomenon with which I am unfamiliar. The exact reasons why particular materials show triboluminescence can be different for different materials, and some of them are quite complicated. It does not seem to be a phenomenon that has lent itsaelf to any particularly useful applications, which is why you will not find an enormous amount of material about it.

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