School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Cold Incandescence



Potassium hydroxide - DANGER

H290, H302, H314
P280, P301+P330+P331, P305+P351+P338, P308+P310

Dimethyl sulfoxide

No dangerous substance according to GHS


No dangerous substance according to GHS

The base of a 1 L erlenmeyer flask or the base of a round-bottom-flask with a flat base is covered about 1 cm high with potassium hydroxide pellets. Add about 1-2 mL dimethyl sulfoxide DMSO and a small amount of luminol. Rotate the the flask in a dark room, leaving the flask uncorked. The contents of the flask behin to shine white-blue; It looks like some white incandescence. Touching the glass of the flask, it is possible to determine that it is "cold" light. Stopping the rotation will cause the light to dim; Restarting the rotation makes it stronger.

Introducing nitrogen into the flask with the glowing contents using a hose will cause the glow to dim and vanish. Introducing oxygen into the flask using a hose will cause the mixture to glow again.

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