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.
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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.