Light From a Pencil Lead (Graphite)

Introduction: Light From a Pencil Lead (Graphite)

About: I enjoy simple DIY projects and enjoy sharing them with others. I'm 33 and I am a sheet metal worker by trade. I really enjoy remodeling and making things. I'm married and have two wonderful children.

This is a fairly interesting experiment you can try at home with stuff you may already have laying around.

For this experiment I used:

  • 8 DD Cell Batteries
  • 4 Aligator Clips
  • 2 Nails
  • Electrical Tape
  • 16 Gauge Stranded Wire
  • A Utility Knife
  • Wire Strippers/Crimpers
  • Graphite From Mechanical Pencil (I used .5mm)
  • (OPTIONAL) 24oz Glass/Mason Jar

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Step 1: STEP 1: Tape Batteries in Series

Line up all batteries positive to negative and tape them all together. Make sure the batteries are in a nice uniform line and taped nicely together to ensure a proper connection.

Step 2: Step 2: Connect Your Alligator Clips

Using your 16 gauge wire, cut two pieces around 12 inches long. Remove approximately 1/2 inch of the insulation on both ends of each wire. Feed the wire into the ends of the alligator clips and crimp tight.

Step 3: Step 3: Attach Nails to a Solid Surface, Safety G's, and Voila!

Drive 2, 2 inch finishing nails into a block of wood (I used my crappy bar top in my garage) approximately 3 inches apart making sure that the two nails are firmly secured.

Using the alligator clips we just made, tape the clips to the nails so that they are just above the nail and so that the metal clips themselves do not touch the nail. I also found that with wires are easier to work with if they have a couple pieces of tape on them so that they are taped to your workbench.

Put your safety glasses on (because the graphite could break into pieces) and attach a full length piece of graphite to your two alligator clips that we firmly secured to our two nails.

With the two opposite ends of the wired alligator clips, touch one end to the positive series of the battery and one end of the negative side of the battery.

Within a couple seconds the graphite will glow very brightly. I would guess with the .5MM graphite I used it was as bright as a 120W light bulb. It doesn't last very long with the oxygen in the air, but with a glass or a mason jar placed on top of it, it will last quite awhile longer.

Hopefully you've enjoyed this Instructable! Please visit my YouTube page for more cool experiments and DIY's like this one.

And for the full video on this:

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    3 years ago

    Fun experiment, it is really bright!