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Black lights are not that different from any other type of light, whether incandescent, fluorescent, or just the age old candle flame. A normal Fluorescent bulb creates light by channeling electricity through a conductive inert gas.
UVB radiation was once thought to be the dominant precursor to skin cancers from UV radiation. Ever wonder how tanning booths can make you burn in 10 minutes while it may take hours in sunlight? Aside from revealing those around you who have dandruff, black lights have very practical purposes. Another ingenious use for black lights is to diagnose certain types of bacterial infections. Some common vitamins that fluoresce include A, and B vitamins, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin.
On average in the United States, UVB radiation is most prevalent between 10AM and 4PM from April to October. Find Us On YouTube!Subscribe today to check out our free Daily Knowledge Youtube video series! Folded "crust" on Europa that looks like fractured ice sheets in which water flowed into the gap for a new, smoother surface. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation that is emitted by the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds.
UV radiation is classified into one of three primary groups: ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet C (UVC). All of the UVC and most of the UVB radiation is absorbed by the eartha€™s ozone layer, so nearly all of the ultraviolet radiation received on Earth is UVA. Sunburn is a sign of short-term overexposure, while premature aging and skin cancer are side effects of prolonged UV exposure. Some oral and topical medicines, such as antibiotics, birth control pills, and benzoyl peroxide products, as well as some cosmetics, may increase skin and eye sensitivity to UV in all skin types. UV exposure increases the risk of potentially blinding eye diseases, if eye protection is not used. Keeping yourself and others protected from UV radiation is an important, year-round responsibility, not just at the beach or during the summer months. Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection. This web site provides basic information about the health effects of ultraviolet radiation and the difference between UVA, UVB, and UVC. Provides information for travelers about overexposure to the sun, health risks from UV rays, and preventive actions that travelers can take to avoid overexposure.
In July 2014, the Office of the Surgeon General released The Surgeon Generala€™s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer, establishing skin cancer prevention as a high priority for our nation. This website provides an infographic to address some misconceptions people most often have around tanning. While the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend the use of UV tanning devices for cosmetic purposes, it is recognized that sunbeds continue to be available to the public. The Burning Truth communication initiative encourages you to keep your skin healthy and beautiful for life by protecting yourself from too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and tanning beds. One of the greatest gemological challenges is determining if a ruby or sapphire has been heat treated. One of the greatest challenges gem dealers and gemologists face today is being able to accurately determine if a stone has been heat treated.
It wasn’t long ago that ultraviolet (UV) fluorescence was considered the poor stepchild of the gem lab, a pint-sized pea shooter when compared with the high-caliber cannons available in modern labs. When a sapphire is subjected to high-temperature heat treatment, a chalky blue to blue-green SW fluorescence is often created. Another blue sapphire showing chalky fluorescence corresponding to the colorless portions of the gem. When observing fluorescence, the idea is to hold the stone with tweezers and bring it as close as possible to the lamp and view it under magnification.
One of the authors (Hughes, 1997) has suggested a lens be incorporated as an integral part of the viewing cabinet, but sadly instrument manufacturers have yet to produce such a unit.
At left is a blue sapphire in a ring; at right, the same stone following a few minutes irradiation by SW UV. One further caveat concerns a type of chalky green SW fluorescence sometimes seen in natural, untreated blue sapphires (particularly those from Madagascar). Occasionally we see a chalky green SW fluorescence in untreated natural sapphires, particularly those from Madagascar. Distant and magified views of another superficial fluorescent patch in an untreated sapphire from Madagascar. Using fiber-optic illumination with the microscope, the fluorescent patch in the stone from Figure 11 is revealed as a clear area without texture clouds.
In its most basic sense, fluorescence is the emission of visible energy of a longer wavelength when bombarded by energy of a shorter wavelength. When a ruby is put into daylight, certain electrons are excited to higher orbitals, producing absorption of the corresponding wavelengths. UV fluorescence can be an extremely sensitive indicator not only of trace impurities, but also the conditions under which the gem formed. Evans surmised after reviewing the data that the 410–420 nm fluorescent peak was due to Ti4+ charge-transfer transition. The Ti4+ charge-transfer transition in corundum is so strong and the efficiency so high that the fluorescence is easily observed by eye at even just 1 ppm Ti4+.
Why this chalky fluorescence occurs relates to the growth temperature and Ti4+ concentrations relative to other impurities. These lower temperatures also allow easier pairing of Ti4+ with other ions (usually Fe2+ or Mg2+) that prevent fluorescence. Why then, do some heat-treated blue sapphires fluoresce chalky blue to green or white, and what causes the difference in appearance?
The appearance of chalky fluorescence in a corundum depends strongly on both the Ti4+ and Fe3+ concentrations.
One of the authors (JLE) has used a Schott BG-12 filter to heighten the superficial chalky fluorescence often seen in heat-treated ruby.
In this heat-treated and flux-healed ruby from Möng Hsu, Burma, thin zoned patches of chalky blue fluorescence float on top of the chromium-based red body fluorescence.
While laser junkies focus strongly on the subject of fluorescence of ions in crystals, it is an orphaned topic in gemology.
With gemology, fluorescence is typically only visually observed with either LW or SW UV radiation, with the results recorded in terms of just brightness, color, and the presence or absence of phosphorescence.
With UV fluorescence, we have something all too rare in gemology today: an inexpensive test that is as sensitive as even bomb-science level analytical equipment. This article came about following RWH's plunge back into serious gemology in January 2005, when he joined the AGTA GTC.
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The difference is that black lights emit most of their light waves just outside the range humans can perceive, in the Ultraviolet (UV) part of the spectrum.
When a photon from UV light hits the phosphorous material, it causes the electrons to get excited and stray farther from the nucleus than they normally would.
They add a small amount of mercury inside the tube, or bulb, that will give off light photons when energized. So shut off all the visible light sources and let the black light show you what you most likely never wanted to see! Tanning booths emit UVA light sometimes as much as 12 times that of what reaches us from the Sun.
Some bacteria naturally fluoresce under UV light and, as such, certain infections can be diagnosed by shining a black light on the patient.
Bacteria have proteins in their cell walls that will bind with water, even when the microbe itself is dead. These materials all tend to have rigid molecular structures that contain delocalized electrons (ones that are not associated with any specific atom within the molecule).
The beneficial effects of UV radiation include the production of a vital nutrient, vitamin D; however, overexposure may present risks. This grouping is based on the measure of their wavelength, which is measured in nanometers (nm= 0.000000001 meters or 1x10-9 meters).
The a€?Skin Cancer Prevention Progress Reporta€? summarizes recent prevention efforts and highlights new data, developments, and success stories following the Call to Action. This practical guide, prepared by Craig Sinclair, WHO, is intended for government health authorities, to assist them in the development of public health policy in relation to sunbeds. UV fluorescence can assist in that identification, as well as detecting fillers in emerald. While a 100% reliable answer to that question is a job for a major gem lab, there is a simple and inexpensive tool that can often give an important indication. But with the rising importance of treatment detection, the humble UV lamp is making a comeback.
This reaction is practically never found in untreated corundums and was first noted by Robert Crowningshield (1966, 1970). When seen, this strong chalky blue SW fluorescence is an extremely strong indication that the gem has been subjected to high-temperature heat treatment. When seen, this strong chalky blue to green SW fluorescence is an extremely strong indication that the gem has been subjected to high-temperature heat treatment.
Examine the stone from all angles; many times the key chalky areas are confined to tiny portions of the stone. A small piece of blutac or clay inserted between the UV lamp and the viewing cabinet creates a small gap.
This yellow color will fade with exposure to sunlight, but illustrates how one should not expose corundums for prolonged periods to SW UV. The fluorescence tends to be weak, and extremely superficial, being limited to thin layers at the surface. This fluorescence tends to be restricted to a thin layer at the surface of the stone and has sharp boundaries, as shown above.
The stimulating energy may be x-rays (x-ray fluorescence), ultraviolet light (UV fluorescence) or even visible light. Indeed, it is not unusual for fluorescence to be easily seen from strongly-fluorescing ions at concentrations in the range of 0.01 parts-per-million (ppm). This fluorescence may be seen in both LW and SW, with LW always being stronger, and is unaffected by heat treatment.
While it has been generally ignored in the gemological literature, it has been the subject of numerous scientific papers (c.f.
Most of the synthetic sapphire in the market contains at least one ppm of Ti4+ from the Al2O3 starting material, if not more, and thus fluoresces.
In synthetic corundums, the high growth temperatures and high Ti4+ concentrations produce the chalky fluorescence. Considering Ti4+ first, it is important to note that the charge-transfer absorption in the UV per ion is extremely high. This filter eliminates the red fluorescence and transmits the Ti4+ blue fluorescence (Figure 17).
Thin, zoned patches of chalky blue fluorescence float atop the chromium-based red body fluorescence. Typically the spectral distribution of the fluorescence is measured, as well as the spectral distribution of the light that can excite that fluorescence (excitation spectrum). Hughes is the author of the classic Ruby & Sapphire and over 170 articles on various aspects of gemology.
John Emmett is one of the world's foremost authorities on the heat treatment, physics, and chemistry of corundum.
While checking the SW fluorescence of a heated sapphire, he decided to call JLE to inquire about the cause of the chalky fluorescence in heated and synthetic sapphires. When a UV light wave hits an object containing substances known as phosphors, those phosphors will naturally fluoresce, and glow. When the electron falls back to its normal state, some of the energy is lost in the form of heat. Right in the middle of these is a sliver of the spectrum that we can see with our human eyes, namely visible light waves. This is because UVA radiation is less intense and it penetrates more deeply than UVB; so it was thought that they did not damage the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis). So the next time you feel like getting a tan via a tanning bed, know that people who use tanning booths are 2.5 times more likely to get squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma, neither of which do you want to get! Most laundry detergents will also fluoresce, which helps your white clothes glow extra bright under a black light. I hope you don’t mind a little constructive criticism, because otherwise this is a well written and informative article. Typically, they usually form on the head, face, neck, hands, and arms because these body parts are the most exposed to UV radiation.
Remember, the higher the number, the greater chance of overexposure leading to health concerns. It is actually the colorless portions of the stone that fluoresce (a reaction similar to Verneuil synthetic sapphires). You will also need a pair of protective glasses (SW light can burn your eyes with prolonged exposure). This allows the stone to be viewed while positioned extremely close to the lamp, greatly increasing the ability to catch weak reactions. Photos were shot with a tripod-mounted Nikon D70 digital camera with a Nikon 60mm 2.8 macro lens. In addition, the fluorescent patches tend to have sharper boundaries than the reaction in heated stones (Figures 10–12).
In most cases, the release of energy from each of those steps is in the form of phonons to the crystal lattice (vibrational heat), and thus invisible to the human eye.
For lay people, that’s an itsy-bitsy amount, completely beyond the detection limits of all but the most sophisticated and expensive analytical equipment. The above stone is an untreated Madagascar blue sapphire in LW, the same stone as shown in Figures 11 and 12. The fluorescence peaks at about 415 nm at very low Ti4+ concentrations, but as the concentration increases, the fluorescent band broadens and the peak shifts to as high as 460 or 480 nm, making the fluorescence appear more greenish-blue or whitish-blue.

In certain heat-treated sapphires with low Fe levels (such as those from Sri Lanka), high-temperature heat treatment creates similar conditions to the synthetic. And finally, as the crystal sits in the ground for millions of years, diffusion slowly takes place, allowing the Ti4+ to slowly pair up with other ions, thus killing the fluorescence. When the stone is heat treated, the rutile dissolves into the corundum by diffusion, but because diffusion is slow, the local concentration of Ti4+ can be quite high.
If we look at the fluorescence of a piece of synthetic sapphire with several ppm of Ti4+, it seems to glow blue throughout the volume. These chalky blue zones are a strong indication of high-temperature heat treatment, but are masked by the red fluorescence and therefore difficult to see. In addition, the temporal decay parameters of the fluorescence are measured using a short pulse light source.
Fluorescence might provide an avenue to determine if some sapphires have received heat treatment at temperatures lower than those normally used for geuda.
He is a former associate director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a co-founder of Crystal Chemistry, which is involved with heat treatment of gemstones.
When the UV light wave is reflected back to your human eyes, it now has less energy, therefore a shorter wavelength. Instead of creating light in the visible spectrum, the coating absorbs harmful UV-B and UV-C light waves and creates UV-A waves. All of the light that is created by the heated filament is filtered out, except those waves in the infrared and UV-A spectrum.  The filter absorbs the rest, which is why this type of black light tends to get extremely hot, even for an incandescent bulb, and has a short lifespan. Numerous recent studies have disproved that theory and UVA waves have been shown to damage skin cells at the basal layer of the epidermis, which is where most skin cancers occur. For you teenage girls out there who just love your booth time, you should know that the first session you get in a tanning bed will increase your risk of melanoma by 75%.
This type of bacteria has 191 known species and is the second leading cause of infections in hospitals. Keeping you and others protected from UV radiation is an important, year-round responsibility. Also finding sometime use were two Nikon screw-on close-up lenses, to further increase magnification. Note that the culet area, which contains the heaviest concentration of blue color, is inert. Natural sapphires grow at much lower temperatures, so Ti4+ is much less likely to pair up with Al vacancies.
In the high concentration regions the Ti4+ concentration will exceed the local charge compensators (Fe2+ or Mg2+) and thus free Ti4+ ions will form. This is because the total Ti4+ charge-transfer absorption is low enough that the UV photons can penetrate into the bulk of the sample.
Sometimes the decay curve is a single exponential indicating a single site or a single ion.
But this will require adopting some of the techniques and instrumentation of the laser junkie. To get the visible light out of the bulb, a phosphorus coating is applied to the glass and reacts to the UV waves and creates the visible light hospitals everywhere are famous for!
UVC wavelengths are absorbed by the ozone layer and as such do not reach us here on the Earth surface. When attracted to the source, they will receive a life-ending shock from whatever electrical mechanism that surrounds the light. Some ski resorts have caught on to this little phenomenon and have started adding dead microbes to their artificial snow-making machines. According to the Standard Model of Particle Physics, it is a currently accepted notion that gravity is indeed a fundamental force. In addition, other trace elements in corundum may produce fluorescent reactions, from the well-known red glow of ruby to other reactions that are still not completely understood. Exposures were made in manual mode with a wireless shutter release, with all ambient (room) lights turned off. This is what makes ruby so special; not only does it possess a red body color, but that red body color is supercharged by red fluorescence. In addition, the dissolution of rutile will locally force the creation of some aluminum vacancies and some of the Ti4+–Al vacancy clusters will form. When the Ti4+ concentration is higher, the fluorescence seems to be coming from a thick layer near the surface because that is as far as the UV photons can penetrate. Other times the decay curve is a combination of two or more exponentials indicating multiple sites or multiple ions. While expenditures for such instrumentation are hard to justify without a guarantee of just what may be learned, the increasing need to stay abreast of gemstone treatments requires an expansion of our array of techniques. The end result being, you cannot see the majority of the light coming from the source, but you can see its reflection off of objects containing phosphors. One of the reasons humans can see more of the light from a bug zapper, than from any other black light, is that bug zappers use clear glass (because it’s cheaper) instead of filter coated glass. Scientists have also discovered that natural snow contains large amounts of these microbes. As mentioned, there are several types of body fluids that will glow under UV light, blood, semen, and urine for example. Special UV protection glasses such as those in front of the cabinet should be worn to protect the eyes from harmful SW radiation.
And while this test is a tool that can be extremely useful, it is not a substitute for a complete gemological examination in a fully-equipped laboratory. These types will fluoresce and thus some heat-treated sapphire will fluoresce somewhat like synthetic Ti-bearing sapphire. At high Ti4+ concentrations, only a thin surface layer is penetrated by the UV and the fluorescence appears as a chalky surface layer (see Figures 15 & 16). Sophisticated fluorescence instrumentation is far less expensive than SIMS, LA-ICP-MS or LIBS analysis. Though helpful for the ski resorts, one type, Pseudomonas syringae, is a nuisance for farmers as it almost immediately destroys crops and plants below freezing. Later, the setup was refined to a tripod-mounted Nikon D200 and the aforementioned 60mm 2.8 macro lens. Because the original distribution of rutile (and iron in solution) occurred in zones, the distribution of the fluorescence will reflect that zoning.
All are products of the past, all are affected by the present, all will be affected by the environment in which they reside, while simultaneously affecting that environment themselves. Perhaps not quite so sexy (nor nearly as expensive), but when it comes to utility, this still looks like a pretty decent dance partner. SW irradiation does create a yellow color center that can alter the color of the gem; even five minutes exposure can do this (see Figure 9).
Thus the very different appearance of the fluorescence of some synthetic sapphire and some heat-treated natural sapphire is not a different phenomenon, just a difference in impurity concentration.
The high iron-content basaltic sapphire (such as that from Australia, Thailand, etc.) will not fluoresce after heat treatment, as the iron concentration is much higher than the Ti4+ concentration everywhere.

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