Kids love to wave glow sticks around on a dark night, tracing brightly coloured tracks against the gloom. Commercial glow sticks are available in many colours and styles. They rely on the mixing of two substances to produce light through a reaction known as chemiluminescence. Once the chemical reaction is complete though, the glow fades. However, it is possible to make a solar-powered glow stick that can be recharged again and again by harnessing the power of the sun. Assembling the glow stick is quick and simple, using materials available from craft and hardware stores, or from online retailers.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Rubber gloves
- Copper doped zinc sulphide, or "glow powder"
- Disposable plastic or paper cup
- Epoxy resin
- Transparent rubber tubing
- Craft knife
Cut a 6-inch length of transparent rubber tubing, using scissors. Place the tubing on a board and carefully slit it along its length down one side, using a craft knife. This will enable you to open up the tube later, to fill it with glow-in-the-dark material.
Measure out 1/2 teaspoon of copper doped zinc sulphide powder, often sold as "glow powder" in craft and hobby stores. Tip the powder into a disposable paper or plastic cup. Wear rubber gloves while handling and mixing the materials to fill your glow stick.
Mix the epoxy resin following the instructions on the packaging. The product is usually sold in two tubes, one for resin and one for hardener. Put equal amounts, about a teaspoon, of each substance into the disposable cup along with the zinc sulphide powder. Use the teaspoon to thoroughly combine the materials.
Place the point of a pair of scissors in one end of the rubber tube. Open up the scissor blades to open up the tube along the slit you cut in it.
Drop the resin mixture into the opened rubber tube, using the teaspoon. Spread the resin mixture, using the spoon, evenly along the tube's length. Spread a little resin mixture on the two cut edges of the slit too. Remove the scissors and press the walls of the tube back into place. The resin on the cut edges should glue the slit closed again. Allow the resin in the tube to set. This should take around half an hour, depending on the brand of epoxy resin you use.
Trim any excess rubber tubing that is not filled with set resin. Put the tube in a sunny place to charge it with light. Later, when it's dark, the tube will glow. It can be recharged by simply placing it again in a bright light.
Tips and warnings
- The epoxy resin materials will become hot immediately after they are mixed, so avoid touching them directly until the resin has hardened, when it becomes cool again. Do not use a glass or foam cup for mixing the resin, as it may be dangerously affected by the build-up of heat (see References 4).
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