In this instructable, I'll show you how to create your own fluorescent compounds out of something you probably already have in your home.
Step 1: Gather Your Items
Grab some highlighters from your desk, bureau, backpack, friend's locker, mom's credenza...you know, wherever. They're lying all about if you really look for them, those unassuming little pearls hiding right in front of our piggish noses. You can use the big fat ones or the slimmer bic-type highlighters, depending on how much fluorescent solution you want to make. The slim versions are fine to make about 150mL to 200mL, depending on how much highlighter fluid is in the highlighter pen. The fat highlighters can make upwards of 500mL of fluorescent solution.
Now, go get 'em!
Step 2: You've Got to Get to the Marrow
Anyway, check out some of the pictures.
Once you have the pen broken open, cut open, or otherwise dissected, you should find a fibrous center shaft that contains the ink. Be careful and don't squeeze it when pulling it out of the pen's shaft. Be prepared to transfer it immediately into a reservoir of water. Being a biochemist, I use 150mL autoclave bottles but you can get by with anything as long as it's watertight. For the water, I use distilled water at ambient room temperature (~ 25 Celsius) but again, for the less anal retentive, you can get on well with just tap water. Regarding temperature, I've tried warm water to increase the rate of transfer of ink into water, but something about my brain prefers ambient to cool water. Don't use ice water, m'kay?
Step 3: Soak the Ink Shafts
Soak those ink shafts for a while, at least until the fibrous shafts are blanched clean/white. Personally, I soak for about a day or two, but you can probably get most of the ink out in several hours. Try turning the bottle every now and then or agitating the solution -- not by calling it names or hiding its homework, but by shaking it gently back and forth.
When the shafts are blanched pull them out and check the concentration with a UV LED and proceed to dilute if necessary. You probably won't need to if you use a thin highlighter. I've found that even thick yellow highlighters make a very bold fluorescence in 150mL while the same concentration in another color doesn't fluoresce at all. Try yellow, green, pink, blue, or any other color that you find and like.
Tighten off your bottles and save them back as your fluorescent stock to use in fun and interesting LED/blacklight lamp projects.
Step 4: Some Ideas
Another idea is to take clear plastic tubing and hold one end with your thumb while you pipette or use an eye dropper to aloquot solution into the tube. It's a tricky endeavour as putting in the solution displaces air, which wants to go out your thumb side. Play around with it. When you're satisfied with the filling, cap off both ends with hot glue. Consider getting UV SMD LEDs and running magnet wire behind the tubing with your LEDs. It looks fantastic.
A final idea is to get some sort of scintillation vial (that's chemistry talk for a small vial with a screw-on, watertight cap) and:
- drill two holes in the cap
- take a 5mm UV led and thread the leads through the holes
- seal off the metal with silicon glue of any variety (i use "tough as nails")
- seal off the cap inside
- fill up the vial with your favorite fluorescent solution
- screw on the lid, adding more solution until there's no bubble
- now connect 3-5V via a 120 ohm resistor to the LED
Step 5: Conclusion