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Emission measurements of glow sticks in party bracelets

Marion Egelkraut-Holtus , Shimadzu Europa GmbH


Glow sticks are increasingly popular at major events like concerts, carnival sessions or New Year's Eve parties - even birthday parties. But they are also used in high-performance applications, for instance for illumination purposes in professional diving processes. Or in general, as a light source when no other light sources are available. They create colorful lights and bring about good cheer; they light up continuously or flicker, their luminosity can last for a short time or longer.

Glow sticks have in common that they light up due to the power of chemiluminescence and that they do not require any external energy sources (power outlet). Chemiluminescence is caused by a chemical reaction between certain substances that results in the emission of light (luminescence). Simple light sticks (glow sticks) typically consist of a polymer tube filled with a dye and a solvent. Inside the tube, there is a glass vial, which contains additional chemicals that are needed to catalyze the chemical reaction.

Which substances and chemicals are present in these glow sticks? What are their chemical properties? Are they hazardous when they get into the hands of children?

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