Instructables

Create Homemade Fluorescent Black Light/UV Displays

Picture of Create Homemade Fluorescent Black Light/UV Displays
Black lights (formally, Ultraviolet or UV lights) are just fun.  Not only are they great for when you are in a trance, but they can be used to identify those questionably unidentifiable stains on your bf's or gf's clothes.  But the coolest thing is how certain colors or chromophores react with UV lights.  Whites and fluorophore compounds (chemical side chains responsible for fluorescence) are especially colorful under a good UV lamp or array of UV LEDs.




In this instructable, I'll show you how to create your own fluorescent compounds out of something you probably already have in your home.


 
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Step 1: Gather Your Items

Picture of Gather Your Items
What's the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about fluorescent ... well, besides fluorescent lighting?  Fluorescent markers, that's what!  Otherwise going by "Hi Liters" or some such thing, these humble little buggers are just screaming to be used for something besides highlighting organic chemistry text books.  And we're going to listen to their plea.

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!
corey114 years ago
This is beast!!!!!! I needed a flourescent dye because I'm going to make a steampunk grenade and I was gonna put a clear bulp at the bottom with the dye in it and an led so if you pull the pin an let the spoon fly (it's a dummy pinapple grenade) it'll glow. 5 stars, great instructable!!!!
nevdull (author)  corey114 years ago
That sounds like a great idea! Write it up, I'd love to read how you do it. Sounds awesome. I'm a fan of steampunk. Thanks alot for the post!
sabrina85791 month ago

do you think there is anyway to use this idea to make a blood splatter pattern naked to the eye and then use a uv light to show it im trying to find a way to make my class project cool! thanks anyone have ideas you rock

nwkeeny3 months ago

Very cool instructable, thank you. I have a question and perhaps you can help me. Do you have any idea of what homemade fluorescent powder I can use to detect theft? We have had poaching on our game farm, and yesterday we found an animal still ensnared. I'd love to be able to put a powder on it's hair and see what comes from it.

nevdull (author)  nwkeeny2 months ago

Hi,

Thanks for the nice words. I'm not sure I understand what you're wanting to do with the fluorescing substance. Are you thinking something akin to the dye packs found in bank vaults?

ceciliapham025 months ago

hi do you need a light to make it glow or can you just turn off the lights and it will glow on its on like a glow stick

nevdull (author)  ceciliapham025 months ago

a glow stick produces its characteristic glowing through chemiluminescence and not fluorescence. remember, fluorescence immediately reemits absorbed light, so you need a light source.

mguerriero112 months ago
Sorry, I'm slightly confused. Once they've turned white and are removed, what do you do? Do you need UV lights, or do they just glow?
I used parfum bottles and cork caps to make it look more stylish.
When i turn them on it's awesome.

Great instructable!!
nevdull (author)  La cacatua carmesi2 years ago
That's awesome! Great idea!
Thanks for sharing!
-gian
Daxuto2 years ago
Oddly enough, about a week ago, before I had read this, I did essentially the same thing for a UV lit water vortex, figuring some fluorescence would look neater than plain water.
I definitely like the ideas you have here, good job ^.~
nevdull (author)  Daxuto2 years ago
Hi!
Sounds like you have a neat project on your hands...anything with "vortex" in its name has got to be pretty cool. :)

Thanks a lot!
So people say that UV light kills bacteria. Assuming that your creation isn't strong enough to kill germs, what can I do to make the UV stronger....?
thanks
nevdull (author)  cantfollowinstructions2 years ago
To get antimicrobial effects from a UV source, you need a UV source that emits at between 200 - 300nm, with 250-260 being optimal to break phosphodiester bonds in bacterial DNA. All of the UV LEDs I own, and have ever seen, have wavelengths starting around ~ 400nm.

You might have better luck looking for a UV fluorescent tube. Use with caution!

Good luck!
SharpyWarpy3 years ago
Where's a good place to buy these little bottles? Thanks for the very cool instructable.
nevdull (author)  SharpyWarpy3 years ago
Thanks for the nice words!

There are several places out on the Intertubes where you can get these little bottles (called "scintillation vials") but here's a link from a science project supply store that has several types of bottles that could potentially be used.

http://www.sciplus.com/category.cfm/subsection/7

Good luck!
nafreena3 years ago
COOL!!! But I have a stupid question..... Will the LED blow if its in the water?
nevdull (author)  nafreena3 years ago
I think it would most likey short the circuit. Use rubber cement on the holes through the cap and to cover any exposed metal leads of the LED that will actually be in the solution and you should be fine. I've had my UV LED in that container of fluorescent solution you see in the pics for almost a year now and it still works just fine.

Good luck!
TQ VERY MUCH!!
I used rubbing alcohol to suspand the foresent dye. I saw in the image a tube full of foresent dye and wanted to try it out, i used crafting rubber cement glue(E6000) That i found at a dollor store and tryied it out, but i keep getting leaks from the tube. when i poped it out the glue was tacky. I would suggest to people not to mix rubbing alcohol to any type of rubber hardner.

I am trying to dye the tube now with foresent dye. Alot of people online say to use 10% acetone to 40%water and remainder dye suspanded in water. So far the tube went from transparent to opaque and from clear to pinkish. I wonder if its cause the acetone is sperating the foresents from the dye and attatching to the tube.
son ja3 years ago
great!
neologik3 years ago
the way you specheed was very funny,
i will try it for my cyber masks

greets
Swix4 years ago
Thanks :] I just tried it ! looks very cool :] will use it as decor. in my room ^^
nevdull (author)  Swix4 years ago
Haha, thanks, glad you liked it. :)
corey114 years ago
Well, I haven't actually started on it yet because I don't have everything I need.  I need copper and brass paint and a feaux aging agent (kind like smearing black shoe polinsh on something and wiping it
Off so it sticks in the cracks and crevices. But I already ground the paint off so i need to paint it. I'm gonna paint the body copper and the spoon brass.  I'm using a mini tobasco bottle for the bulb (you get them in MRE's. I don't think their available in any other country but I'm 14 so I wouldn't know.I fill that with the Fliourescent dye and epoxy that into the hole that came drilled in the bottom of the grenade after adding the circutry. And that consists of A UV led and a pressure swith that once pressure is releived, it completes the circuit. I'd put the switch by the spoon so once i let it fly, the uv led lights up the dye.  Pretty simple I guess. 
rug corey114 years ago
its gin or tonic water cant rember 1 of them also glows with the light so u could use that instead (cheaper)
nevdull (author)  rug4 years ago
yeah, it's probably the quinine in tonic water that's fluorescing.
nevdull (author)  corey114 years ago
Sounds like it'll be a great project. I look forward to reading it when you get it finished.

-gian

p.s. those mini-Tabasco bottles used to sell for hard cash in the field among US Marines. Anything to cover the taste of MRE's after months of eating them is worth gold. :)
Wesley6664 years ago
Try this with Red, Green and Blue and make a Fluorescent RGB Mood Light! :)
nevdull (author)  Wesley6664 years ago
You know, I laughed when I read that, but after thinking on it for a minute I think if instead of using water, you used an organic solvent, like sec-butyl-oh or methylene for two colors, you could separate them with a water-based solution, say red in octane, green in water, blue in octane. It should make a sort of plasma light, like a lava lamp. Groovy!
That would be pretty cool! :D
jeff-o4 years ago
Hmmm, I remember extracting highlighter liquid back in grade 7 and 8. Never found a use for it though, and I certainly didn't have any UV LEDs! I'll certainly remember this trick should any of my projects require a large volume of fluorescing liquid!
nevdull (author)  jeff-o4 years ago
Haha yeah, sort of in my mind in the same area as making slime and elbow macaroni pictures. But you never know when you might need some super duty fluorescing fluid! I got the video working showing the brightness and fluorescing you can produce with this method. Thanks for checking out my instructable!