Public Lab Research note

Ultraviolet fluorescence in BP oil residue and olive oil

by warren | October 01, 2012 19:00 01 Oct 19:00 | #4097 | #4097

After working with Chris to collect sediment samples from the Gowanus Canal, we tried shining a strong UV light through these two samples of olive oil (on the left) and BP oil residue (on the right, soaked in mineral oil). Both fluoresced strongly and we took this cool photo of it. Since we've been worried that the laser fluorescence we got in the same samples was not strong enough to be recorded by our spectrometers, maybe this technique will be a better bet. I hope to try taking a spectrum of this fluorescence today.

Here is the older laser fluorescence test:


How deep into the UV can your spec detect...transmitted light? My apologies if this is old news, but UV doesn't pass through conventional glass very well. If you've a strong source, you may be OK. Otherwise, you can get quartz microscope slides for not too much money; a thin film of your sample on a quartz slide and under a quartz cover slip may give you a fairly uniform sample thickness and good UV transparency.

Best, Peter

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Hi, Peter - we have gotten as low as 360 nm, and i think the glass cutoff is 350. There is some brainstorming on how to get lower than 350 on this page:

Thanks for the tip on quartz slides! We've been looking at quartz cuvettes on ebay too...

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