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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Somewhere over the rainbow

by Alexandra Taylor
April 14, 2020

A gif showing a black card covered in clear nail polish to give a rainbow effect.
Credit: Andres Tretiakov

Being homebound hasn’t stopped Andres Tretiakov, a laboratory technician at St. Paul’s School in London, from sharing his love of science. Here he demonstrates how to create a permanent rainbow effect by letting a drop of clear nail polish expand in water over a paper card. When the card dries with its film of polish, an array of colors are visible. Tretiakov explains that the colors visible depend on the film’s thickness and the angle from which the light hits it. In areas where the film is too thick, only white light is visible, whereas along the outer edges, the film is colorless because it’s thinner than the wavelength of visible light.

Tretiakov had been at home with a sports injury before coronavirus began to spread and has been furloughed since the UK lockdown went into effect. He had been looking for ways to keep up with colleagues and experimenting when he came across the #ScienceFromHome hashtag on Twitter, where scientists of all stripes have been conducting and sharing experiments with whatever they can find at home. Tretiakov says that sharing with this community has been “a sort of life raft in a sea of despair” that has helped keep his mind off of coronavirus-related worries. “Although there is no lab or fancy equipment to analyse the products of reactions, much can be learned from trying a few simple things in the kitchen,” Tretiakov says. “What better way to show how science is instrumental and applies to our daily lives!”.

Submitted by Andres Tretiakov

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