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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Raise a glass to fluorescence

by Manny Morone
June 12, 2018


A pint glass with chemical structures of water, ethanol, humulene, and other beer compounds fluoresces sky blue under an ultraviolet lamp.
Credit: Brian Wagner/UPEI

Chemists love their glassware, and the University of Prince Edward Island’s Brian Wagner is no exception. His favorite pint glass shows off structures of the most common compounds found in beer: ethanol, water, fructose, glucose, maltose, and flavor compounds from hops, such as cis-isohumulone (top left of the glass), humulene (center of glass), and myrcene. Wagner was pleasantly surprised when he noticed that the glass is also fluorescent under ultraviolet light. The glass glows blue because the manufacturers added metal oxides to the glass mix, which allow them to change a variety of the glass’s material properties. How did Wagner discover its blue glow? “I have a portable, battery-powered UV-A lamp, so yes, I do go around checking things out for fluorescence, in fact!” Wagner says.

Submitted by Brian Wagner. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter and Instagram to see more fluorescence of everyday things.

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Related C&EN Content:

Chemistry in Pictures: Fluorescence of everyday objects

Chemistry in Pictures: Water it down, turn it up

Chemistry in Pictures: Happy little plant cells.


This post was updated on June 14, 2018 to reflect the fact that several metal oxides can give glass blue fluorescence, not just lead(II) oxide as was previously stated.


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