Make SMASH-GLOW Crystals!!!

Uploaded by NurdRage on 10.01.2010

Greetings fellow nerds.
I this video we're going to make triboluminescent, or smash glow crystals.
Crystals that flash light when smashed.
First, we start with 100 mL of dry ethanol.
The ethanol I'm using was dried by azeotropic distillation with benzene.
Now we add 2.93g of dibenzoylmethane.
1.4g of europium nitrate pentahydrate that we made in a previous video.
And finally we add 1.9mL of triethylamine.
After adding a stir bar we gently heat and stir the mixture until everything dissolves.
Once everything is dissolved,
take it off heating and carefully stopper the solution to prevent evaporation.
As it cools the product will crystallize out.
Now we want large crystals so we need to cool it slowly.
The trick in this case is to place the flask into a thermos to keep the heat in.
It will cool very slowly cool allowing us to form the larger crystals we want.
I'm going to leave that overnight to crystallize.
There is our nicely formed crystalline product.
Now we have to separate and dry it using standard vacuum filtration on a fritted funnel.
First break up the clumps.
Filter it out by vacuum.
Let me get rid of the waste.
Now I'm washing the crystals with portions of ethanol to thoroughly clean the waste products from them.
Give it an hour to dry.
Now transfer it to a vial.
Here we are, as you can see we now have a nice product of triboluminescent
Also known as smash-glow crystals.
The first property of note is that because of the europium
it exhibits a very strong reddish orange fluorescence.
The camera doesn't render it properly, but the color is actually quite brilliant.
But now for it's most famous property, triboluminescence,
or the generation of light when it's crushed or smashed.
Here I've placed some in a bag and I'm going to hit it multiple times with a hammer.
And there you go, smash glow crystals.
Now certain explosives and combustible materials also light up when smashed.
But triboluminescent substances do so without burning.
I can show this to you under the microscope.
Here are the crystals close up. Let me turn off the back light.
Now the crystals are between two sheets of glass
and I'm going to grind the glass into the crystals to smash them.
As you can see the crystals aren't burning, they're just lighting up.
But you can also see that once the crystals are completely destroyed, they no longer work.
This is because the triboluminescent process is based on the destruction of the crystal structure.
Once it's no longer crystalline, it can't glow.
But unlike combustible materials,
smash-glow crystals can easily be restored
by simply dissolving them back in hot ethanol and recrystallized.
You can keep using them and recrystallizing them indefinitely.
Now I'm just simply grinding the crystals against the glass wall of the vial.
There are other good videos of triboluminescence on YouTube.
Including one by the journal nature where they use tape to make X-Rays.
But as far as i know,
this is the first video in the world of Europium Tetrakis (Dibenzoylmethide)-triethylammonium.
The exact mechanism by which triboluminescence works is still under investigation.
But the best theories so far propose that the breaking of the structure
causes charge separation that release energy upon recombination.
This energy is picked up by nearby atoms, in this case europium,
and released as light according to their ionization or fluorescence spectra.
Other colors can be made with different compounds,
but i only had enough money to make this particular stuff.
Can you think of cool uses for this?
Personally I'd like a tennis ball or soccer ball coated with this stuff, that'd be sweet.
Thanks for watching, please subscribe, rate, and comment your ideas for uses down below.