Physics Lamps & Lights

Vintage VFD Tube Clock

Fully assembeld high quality clocks available here:

From Etsy: BUY NOW: VFD Tube Clock

Vintage VFD Tube Clock: before seven segment LEDs there were Vacuum Fluorescent Display tubes in which zinc oxide coatings emit green light when bombarded by electrons under high vacuum. A phosphor coated anode segment only illuminates if it and the grid (seen in close up) are both energized at positive potential. This clock features an eight digit IV-18 display tube manufactured in the 1990s and cofigured to power up via a USB cable - old tech meets modern electronics in an elegant acrylic case. 

Caustic Projection Optical Element

This optical element is a component of this affordable Laser show device:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Aurora Laser Show Projector

Get this beautiful new color of laser pointer here: 
From eBay: BUY NOW: 488nm Laser Pointer (Cyan)

Caustic Projection Optical Element: the intricate geometries of light due to refraction through various curved surfaces of transparent plastic. A 488 nm cyan laser pointer is refracted through an optical element with lumpy surface features which create this aurora/nebula effect. When light rays refract through a curved surface they concentrate into bright patches called caustics, often with cusp singularities (sharp points) and intricate threads of shadow. 

Phosphorescence and Fluorescence in Calcite

The UVA and UVC lamps used in this video are available here (well made and reasonably priced professional tools):
From WayTooCool LLC: BUY NOW: UV Lamps

Get a calcite crystal sample here (those with a slight pink color will exhibit the glow): 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal 
From eBay: BUY NOW Optical Calcite Crystal

Phosphorescence and Fluorescence in Calcite: a ghostly blue afterglow is induced by a short wave UVC ultraviolet lamp. The high energy UVC photons interact with electrons in the crystal trapping them in a temporary quantum state with a decay half-life of 7.2 milliseconds, each then emit a blue photon when returning to their ground state- the phenomenon of phosphorescence. However a pink/orange instantaneous glow is produced by a long wave UVA lamp/flashlight (swipe to see). These medium energy UVA photos from the flashlight interact with electrons in different orbitals that de-excite through the emission of orange 595nm photons. See my previous post for more amazing calcite crystal physics.


Natural Mineral Fluorescence 

Get ruby in matrix stones and jewelry here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Ruby Glow Stones

and find the sodalite bright orange fluorescent syenite here:
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Orange Glow Stones

You will also want an awesome UV flashlight like this one:
From Amazon: BUY NOW: High Power UV Light

Natural Mineral Fluorescence: Four mineral specimens that emit a surprising bright glow under long wave ultraviolet light (from left to right): a clear calcite crystal glows pink, a carved obelisk of grey syenite with grains of sodalite(bright orange), a carved piece of green fuchsite with red ruby inclusions(red glow) and veins of white calcite(bright white), and a polished slab of lapis lazuli with speckles of the mineral hauynite (yellow glow). The colorful glow comes from complex quantum mechanical behavior where high energy UV photons are absorbed and then lower energy photons are emitted- the physics of fluorescence.

Fluorescein v. Laser Frequency

Need a laser pointer? Incredibly, you can get 3 (one of each color) for under $20 (including S&H): 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Red+Green+Purple Laser Pointer

Make you own fluorescent solution with this powder: 
From Etsy/STEMCell Science: BUY NOW: Fluorescein Powder

Fluorescein v. Laser Frequency: exploring how this famous fluorescent dye reacts to three frequencies of laser pointer using this unique liquid filled paperweight. Under Green (532 nm) we see some mild yellow fluorescence as the beam transmits through the liquid, under Red (635 nm) the beam transmits with no reaction, but under near UV Blue (450 nm) the beam is completely absorbed near the liquid surface and re-emitted in bright green with a peak at 515nm. A fun home experiment to explore quantum physics phenomena with inexpensive apparatus.

Magnifying Glass Hologram

Similar vintage holograms are currently available on eBay in limited quantities: 
From eBay: BUY NOW Photopolymer True Hologram

Magnifying Glass Hologram: this photopolymer hologram is so realistic one can look at the circuit board through, or around, the lens in this 1980s reflective hologram. Unlike photographs, holograms are recordings of the interference pattern of light waves, and incredibly what you see is created by information encoded in a layer thinner than a piece of paper! This interference pattern can encode the entire 3D light field, which can present the original object in amazing detail, including how the light was bending through a lens, when illumination by a point source of light and viewed from an appropriate angle. A favorite hologram in my collection.


Slow Dance

This finally crated kinetic art piece avaiable here: 

From Art of Play: BUY NOW: Slow Dance

Slow Dance: a kinetic sculpture via induced vibration and high speed strobe lighting in which objects exhibit subtle and beautiful motion when mounted within this special frame. I love how the electromagnet, with its beautiful copper windings, is prominently featured at the bottom of the frame. Electronics within the frame send AC currents to the electromagnet which then pushes and pulls magnets on each side. These magnets are affixed to leaf springs to which feathers, flowers, and other objects are attached with elastic bands. The arrangement is then illuminated by LEDs set to strobe at just the right frequency to produce the slow dance illusion.

Element 10: Neon 

Luciteria (highly recommended) sells this cube and 80 other elements in many formats- start your collection today! 

From Luciteria: BUY NOW: Lucite Cube Element 10 Neon

Need a mini Tesla Coil? Click here for details: Mini Tesla Coil 

Element 10, Neon: a pure sample of the famous noble gas in a glass ampule encased within a lucite cube. But how can we know that the glass tube is actually filled with neon gas? If the sample is brought near the 50,000 Volt high frequency electric field of a miniature Tesla coil, the gas will glow with the characteristic orange light from the electron energy transitions specific only to neon. Note that the glow deceases as the sample is moved away from the coil in proportion to the electric field intensity- and that there is an excitation threshold, the gas needs a higher intensity (closer to coil) to initiate the glow discharge but will still glow when moved further away. 

Viscous Flow Mixing Bulbs

Special discount for @physicsfun followers: use coupon code below! 
From EP DesignLab: BUY NOW 
EP Lights LED Bulb Art 

coupon code: PHYS2019 (10% off) 

Viscous Flow Mixing Bulbs: art from mixing high viscosity fluids. Each LED bulb from EP Designlab captures a unique pattern based on the physics of laminar flow folding resulting from the mixing of viscous fluids- in this case silicone resins. When the resins cure the pattern is captured and frozen in place ready to display as illuminated by an array of 5 LEDs in the standard E26 bulb base. With this process no two bulbs are alike, and all capture intricate mixing physics.


Diffractive Optical Element

Amazing application of high resolution far field holograms. The only available source I know of for projection holograms at this high resolution is this supplier of industrial samples 
From MaterialSampleShop.com: Diffractive Optical Element Sample 

Need a laser pointer? Incredibly, you can get 3 (one of each color) for under $20 (including S&H): 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Red+Green+Purple Laser Pointer

Diffractive Optical Element: images produced by constructive and deconstructive interference of coherent laser light. The patches of microstructure on the surface of this transparent plastic are far field holograms- transmission holograms, but with the image at infinity. Side by side images from two different laser wavelengths (red 635 nm, green 520 nm) shows clearly the red image is larger than the green since diffraction angle is proportional the wavelength. So much physics here!

Halloween Neon Glow Bulb 

Similar neon discharge glow bulbs can still be found:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs

Halloween Neon Glow Bulb: the pumpkins, with a high voltage between them, glow orange with light from the emission spectrum of the excited neon atoms of the low pressure gas within the bulb. The ghost glows from a coating of phosphor which is stimulated to emit green light by ultraviolet (and invisible) photons. Excited neon atoms emit photons both in the visible (mostly orange and yellow wavelengths), and also in the UV wavelengths, and these ultraviolet photons are absorbed by the phosphorescent coating on the ghost plate which then emit the absorbed energy as green light. Amazing physics in a light bulb! 

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb

Old school neon type bulbs found here:

From eBay: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs
From Amazon: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs
From Etsy: BUY NOW: Neon Glow Bulbs

and these old fashion flicker bulbs look great with the diffration glasses:
From Amazon: BUY NOW Flicker Flame Neon Bulb 

The diffraction effect glasses used here is this kind: 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Diffraction Glasses

Neon Flicker Flame Skull Bulb: no flame but instead emission spectra from excited neon gas due to the presence of a discharge electric current. The breakdown voltage of a gas (the minimum voltage needed for a current to flow) depends on the pressure of the gas in the bulb. The flickering effect comes about because the current flow will increase the temperature near it, which raises the pressure and affects the breakdown voltage near the current- so the glow from one area can only last as long as it takes to heat up and raise the breakdown voltage which kills the current in that area. In other physics, a diffraction grating shows that neon only emits light in specific wavelengths- mostly reds and yellows at AC house voltages.