Why is Quinine Fluorescent?

The plant of a cinchona tree
••• studionobra/iStock/Getty Images

Once frequently used to treat malaria, quinine is an alkaloid found in the bark of the cinchona tree. It is sometimes found in tonic water, and it also happens to be fluorescent. Under a black light, quinine will glow blue.

Black Lights

A black light is also called an ultraviolet light; it emits some parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that are not visible to the unaided human eye.

Why Quinine Glows

Quinine contains rare earth compounds called phosphors. These substances glow when they are hit with particular wavelengths of the EM spectrum, including UV light. Phosphors absorb UV light and then emit it in their own color. Thus, the black light's UV radiation is absorbed by the phosphors in the quinine, and then emitted again in the form of glowing blue light.

Related Articles

Test Your Knowledge on Middle School Science
What Are the Two Major Components of an Atom?
What is Ethanolic Potassium Hydroxide?
How to Neutralize Food Coloring in Water
What Color Would a Tester PH Paper Turn if Is Dipped...
What Are the Colors of Neon?
What Color of Light Do Plants Absorb?
How to Test UV Bulbs
How to Make a Bromothymol Blue Solution
How to Divide Rational Numbers
Where Is the Mineral Topaz Found?
Brine Vs. Conductivity
The Use of Phosphorous in Light Bulbs
How to Mix Calcium Chloride and Water
How to Make Forensic Luminol
Is the Great Blue Heron an Endangered Species?
How to Convert Pounds Per Square Foot to PSI
How to Make Homemade Glow Sticks
How to Make Bromine Water in the Chemistry Lab
How Does Fog Form?