How Does Glow in the Dark Paint Work?
Claudia Z. 2012

Ultraviolet Light
Ultraviolet light is a light that we cannot see. This light is also called black light. This light comes from the sun. Ultraviolet light is what gives us sun burns and tans. When ultraviolet light falls onto certain surfaces it causes the light to fluorescence or emits visible light.


Electrons
Electrons are in an atom. When light is shown on glow in the dark paint the electrons inside the atoms gather more energy. This causes them to jump up to higher energy levels. When the light is no longer shining on the paint the electrons fall back down to the electrons normal position. When the electrons fall back down they give off a glow. The first energy level of the atom can hold up to two electrons. The second energy level can hold up to eight electrons. The third energy level can hold up to seven electrons. This is how an atom works.


Science project diagram.jpg
Figure 1. How an Atom Works


Protons
Protons are in the center of the atom. The number of protons is the number of electrons in the atom. The number of protons (or number of electrons (they are the same)) is called the atomic number.


Luminescence
Luminescence is the emission of light by certain materials when they are relatively cool. Luminescence can be seen on florescent lamps, glow sticks and glow in the dark paint. Glow in the dark paint is a luminescence. It is a luminescence because when the electrons get cooler they give of a glow. Another form of Luminesence is neon signs.


Thermal Energy
Most paints selectively absorb wavelengths of light. Fluorescent and Phosphesent dyes and pigment only change part of the light energy intothermal energy. Then reemit the rest of the light that was not used as a new color of light. This is a rapid process. This is the same process that lets a fluorescent lamp convert light to a visible light. In a fluorescent paint tiny atoms absorb each wavelength of light and convert that energy in to thermal energy.


How It Works
Glow in the dark paint glows by ultraviolet light shines on the electrons. Then the electrons get hot and jump up to higher energy levels. When the light is not shining on the paint the electrons fall back down and luminescence. This is happening all over the paint and it causes it to glow!

Glow in the dark paint.jpg
Figure 2. Glow in the Dark Paint



Glossary
Luminescence- The emission of light by certain materials when they are relatively cool
Thermal Energy- Energy that comes from the sun
Ultraviolet Light- Light that comes from the sun that we cannot see


Citations

Bloomfield, Louis A. How Everything Works. Hoboken NJ: Wiley, 2007.

Borgford, Christie and Sally Ann Vonderbrink. Interactions of Matter. Orlando: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2007. Print.

Butler, Karen “ An Introduction to Ultroviolet Light” Looking Fit 2012, Karen Butler, Web. September 24, 2012

"photochemical reaction." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition.Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012. Web. 14 Sept. 2012.