Fluorescent Olive Oil

You may notice how water or other liquids tend to distort images when submerged. In this experiment, you will use oil and a laser to find out why this happens.

Materials

  • Olive oil
  • Clear glass
  • Laser pointer
  • Lab notebook

Directions

  1. Fill the glass about an inch or 2 with olive oil
  2. Shine the green laser into the olive oil. USE CAUTION. Laser pointers have more power than the sun and can blind someone immediately if shined into their eyes. DO NOT EVER shine a laser pointer at another person.
  3. Observe the difference of color inside the olive oil and write your observations into your lab notebook. Why does the laser change colors?

Explanation

You should notice that the color inside the olive oil is different than the color of the laser. What you are seeing is a process called fluorescence. Olive oil contains a bunch of organic molecules that can absorb one color of light and re-emit a different color. It is this fluorescence that you are seeing when looking to the side of the beam.