Hey ya folks! Don’t miss this weekend’s Glowfair festival on Bank Street. The amazing amalgamation of music, light and art. While bank street is preparing for your rendezvous with glowing miracles, allow Wingd to give you a glimpse into the science behind the cool Glowfair festival.

The glowing fun is mainly an attribute of phosphorescence and luminous paint. Phosphorescent materials glow in the dark for a limited period and then their light fades out. Phosphorescence is a phenomenon that occurs when a substance absorbs light and emits a relatively low energy, longer wavelength radiation or light. This is due to the excitation of electrons to a higher state accompanied by a change in the spin state of the electrons in the substance. Since the spin state changes, the electrons take time to return to the ground or non-excited state resulting in low intensity radiation(photons) being emitted for long time intervals.

Phosphorescence or the “glow” can be seen in nature in myriad of organisms such as fireflies and jellyfish. In fact, as first steps towards efficient street lighting, scientists and researchers have proposed to use phosphorescence in trees, instead of incandescent lights or LEDs. This is called, “biomimicry“. The idea behind phosphorescent trees is to induce genetic material from organisms like fireflies into the trees or plants by using synthetic biology. The enzyme, luciferin that produces light in fireflies, help them naturally produce light. Luciferase enzymes catalyse the light emitting reactions in different organisms. The importance of luminosity has resulted in a lot of research and improvement of bio luminescent systems.

Luminous paint or luminescent paint is paint that exhibits luminescence. They work in similar lines as phosphorescence. In other words, they give off visible light through fluorescence, phosphorescence, or radio luminescence. Fluorescent paints offer a wide range of pigments and chroma which also ‘glow’ when exposed to the long-wave “ultraviolet” frequencies(UV) that are perceived as fluorescent glow by the human eye. This luminescence is however very different from the natural bio-luminescence of bacteria and insects. Bio-luminescence involves no reflection at all, but synthesis of light through luciferin. Fluorescent paints can be both, visible and invisible. The visible appear as any bright color under white light and turn peculiarly brilliant under black lights. Invisible fluorescent paints are transparent or pale under daytime lighting, but glow under UV light in a limited range of colours. This difference in visibility is said to create many visual effects, which you will see at the glowfair festival! The paints have extensive application in artistic lighting. So people, have fun this weekend, groove to the music and LET THERE BE LIGHT !!

Written By:  Soumi Ghosh & Navita Patel