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Analytical Chemistry

Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Secret message

by Manny I. Fox Morone
December 29, 2022


A paper under ultraviolet light has "Dr. Aijaz Research Lab" painted on it in green letters.
Credit: Shaista Lone
A seemingly blank piece of paper held up in ambient light.
Credit: Shaista Lone

Although she’s still perfecting how neatly she can write with a paintbrush, Shaista Lone sends invisible notes like this one to her labmates using solutions of fluorescent compounds she’s working with in lab. Under ultraviolet light, the message appears, but the paper looks blank in ambient light (shown). Lone, a researcher at the University of Kashmir under the mentorship of Aijaz A. Dar, is working on making smart materials using these nontoxic organic molecules that can sense things like pH and various biological molecules in solution. In the vials shown below, you can see how amino acids (left) change the yellow fluorescence of the pure sensor (center) to green upon mixing (right).

Three vials contain a solid amino acid powder, a fluorescent sensor powder that glows yellow, and a mixture of the first two vials that glows lime green.
Credit: Shaista Lone

Submitted by Shaista Lone

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