San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide

Mineral Fluorescence

This area is closed for renovation of the Museum.

Mineral fluorescence is demonstrated in this interactive display entitled Short Wave Fluorescence. Minerals in this display are exposed to germicidal fluorescent lamps, in conjunction with a UV quartz grid, and through blue-black quartz filters. The results are varying color effects depending on the mineral. For example, the calcite in this display is excited by the short wave UV light and glows bright red (if exposed to long wave UV light, the calcite doesn't glow at all). Other forms of high energy, such as X-rays and heat, may also cause fluorescence in minerals. Some minerals continue to glow when the light is turned off, a condition called phosphorescence.

Photo of minerals in normal light Photo of brilliant, glowing, colorful minerals

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