What is Chemiluminescence

Chemiluminescence is a mouthful of a term.  Chances are, it doesn’t mean too much to you on its own.  However, the concept actually powers a number of items in your life.  If you grew up in the western world, chances are you have used this concept numerous times in glow sticks alone.  But what is chemiluminescence exactly?

Define Chemiluminescence

The term chemiluminescence is composed of two separate ideas—chemical and luminescence.  Chemicals are the compounds which create the world around us.  Luminescence is the emission of light by a substance without the use of heat in the process.  Thus, chemiluminescence is the production of light via the combining of chemicals in the presence of a suitable catalyst without the application of heat.

The amount of light produced in this chemical reaction will vary based on the chemicals used and the amount they are used in.  The light is not actually emitted when the reaction occurs.  Instead, the reaction excites the molecules.  The excited state then decays to a lower level of energy, at which point the production of light—the chemiluminescence reaction—occurs.

A prime example of chemiluminescence in action is something we have all seen on television and in movies—the use of the chemiluminescence of luminol to detect blood at a crime scene.  Luminol reacts with the iron found in hemoglobin to produce a blue glow that is visible in dark spaces.  While this reaction only lasts for less than a minute, other chemiluminescence reactions can sustain for longer periods of time, especially when contained inside of packaging, as is the case with a glow stick.

Experiencing Chemiluminescence

You can experience the chemiluminescence effect yourself at home or within the classroom.  Science teachers can create a highly captivated classroom by demonstrating how certain chemicals can react with one another to produce light.  You could even engage the students in a detective game by having them use spray chemicals to detect the presence of other chemicals in different areas of the classroom or school.  These chemiluminescence experiments are guaranteed to stay with the children for a long time and the active learning helps to engage them.

The easiest way to allow younger kids to experience chemiluminescence for themselves is through the use of glow sticks and certain blinking toys.  These items rely on the reaction of two or more chemicals combining to produce light.  The added benefit of using these toys is that children can continue to play with them after they learn about the effect.  They are more likely to remember what they learned since they learned it through play.

To obtain toys which rely on chemiluminescence, you can contact Premier Glow.  They stock a wide variety of items you can use to introduce the concept to the children in your life and are ready to ship the same day you place your order. 


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