Attractive and safe chemical experiments linked to educational programmes
The phenomena linked to emergence of light were always regarded as something unnatural and divine. A personal encounter with unusual atmospheric phenomena like aurora borealis or the St. Elmo´s Fire can even today impress and frighten many people. The cold light of living organisms like fireflies, glowing mushrooms or sea organisms offers the same kind of amazement.
These highly impressive wonders had stayed for thousands of years the exclusive privilege of nature, without the man´s ability to induce them on purpose. The alchemist´s desire for taming the light into the interior of a retort had remained for a long time just a wishful thinking as was the case with their many other efforts.
This situation changed somewhat in 1669 when a Hamburg-based alchemist and pharmacist Henning Brand discovered phosphorus on distilling urine to dryness. The greenish glowing waxy solid soon became an object of fascination and interest of many scientists and jugglers showing experiments on noblemen´s courts.
A much stronger wave of interest of the scientific community in luminescence phenomena comes with the development of chemistry in 19th century and especially in 20th century. A systematic cooperation of physics, chemistry and biology enable more detailed understanding of causes and laws of the interaction of energy and matter. The results of this fruitful cooperation are evident around us and it is hard to imagine life without them.
The most common use of luminescence is known from illuminating and signalization technology. The old CRT TV´s and PC-monitors are now almost completely replaced by a more sophisticated, cheaper and lightweight diode technology. Thanks to the advent of cheaper LED´s, the illuminating technology is experiencing about the same leap as was the transition from candles to bulbs.
Analytical use of luminescence phenomena opens a range of possibilities in study of many chemical and biochemical processes, geological explorations, forensic science, medicine, etc.
Nowadays, the knowledge about the interaction of light and matter is increasingly being used in development of a broad spectrum of technologies spanning from medicinal diagnostics over illuminating technology to development of innovative advanced materials. One such an example is development of cheaper and more effective photovoltaic cells which can play a central role in a deep transformation of renewable energy industry.