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Analytical Chemistry

Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures—Fluorescence in everyday objects

November 16, 2017

A photo of a series of vials and other objects showing fluorescence ranging from orange to deep blue.
Credit: Brian Wagner

Brian Wagner, a chemistry professor at the University of Prince Edward Island, often works with fluorescent detector molecules in his lab. But instead of showing off his research, he decided to show off the fluorescent objects people interact with all the time by putting them under a 350-nm-wavelength ultraviolet lamp. From left to right, the substances shown are as follows:

Olive oil (contains various fluorescent compounds)

Vitamin B-2, a.k.a. riboflavin, dissolved in water

Turmeric dissolved in water (contains the fluorescent molecule curcumin)

A bar of Irish Spring Original soap (contains the fluorescent molecule pyranine)

Canola oil (contains various fluorescent compounds)

Tonic water (contains the fluorescent molecule quinine)

Laundry detergent (contains fluorescent brightening dyes)

Wagner submitted this photo as part of the #RealTimeChem photo contest. The two runners-up in the Colorful Chemistry category were Madison Fletcher with a photo of this trichromic DNA gel and Andres Tretiakov with this pH demonstration using red cabbage juice.

A DNA gel with 3 sets of spots, one is blue, one is purple, and one is yellow.
Credit: Madison Fletcher
A side-by-side image of a test tube with several bands of color showing different regions of pH and a cabbage.
Credit: Andres Tretiakov

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