MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: chemial make up of glow in the dark star

Date: Wed Oct 6 03:05:00 1999
Posted By: Jonathan Feldman, Undergraduate, Applied Chemistry, University of Western Sydney
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 938793851.Ch

Hi Ellen

I haven't able to find out what the actual chemical in glow-in-the-dark 
stars is, but I can tell you why they glow...

The chemical in the stars exhibits a property called "phosphorescence".  It 
absorbs radiant energy, such as light.  The electrons store this energy by 
jumping to a higher 'energy level'.  When you remove the light source (ie, 
switch off your bedroom light), the electrons return to their original 
energy level, and release the stored energy as light.

A typical phosphorescent material which is used widely, is Zinc Sulphide 
(ZnS).  However, there are lots of other materials which are also 
phosphorescent, and produce different colours, including green, violet, 
blue, red and pink.

If you still need more info, you may want to try using a search engine to 
look for 'phosphorescent materials', or 'phosphorescence'.

Hope this helps

Jonathan Feldman
University of Western Sydney, Nepean

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