Blue Amber Physics

How did blue amber get its colour?

Irradiation started the process of thermal polymerization which had produced polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Powerful UV photons were absorbed by the hydrocarbons and then discharged as low-energy photons that were visible.

In simpler terms, you must understand what makes regular amber different than blue amber, aside from the colour blue.

There are two necklaces shown in this photograph. This was taken in a room with dim lighting and a black background. The right side contains a fluorescent lamp because it allowed the photographer to see what they were doing. Above the necklaces was a tiny ultraviolet lamp.

Many light sources besides sunlight cause it to become blue. There are also few fossils. There are not too many natural materials that can glow like this one. Fluorescence is the key word here. This is what causes white clothes to turn blue if you were to go clubbing. When white shirts are manufactured, they are able to get that colour because of optical brighteners. These are basically dyes which absorb invisible UV lighting and cause it to become visible light. Any shirt that has a bright colour probably had these dyes used to make it. The most common colour they’re used for is white. You see them used in toilet paper and print paper too.

Plant synthesis is used to make the majority of these dyes. Since plants are photosensitive, specific fluorescent elements can be taken from them. Two of which include umbelliferone and stilbene.

Many products require chemicals which can turn them lighter coloured and bright. Coriander is used to synthesize umbelliferone. Aside from being used to make dye, it is the solution for making sunscreen lotions as well. You can find laundry detergents with stilbene in it. This chemical is meant to dye your clothes brighter rather than softening and cleaning them.

How do the fluorescent elements of the dye make things brighter? What does this have to do with Amber?

Everything is shiny and bright in the store. You see laptops, lamps, iPods, watches, and LCD screens looking like they’re glowing brightly. That is the result of a special kind of glow chemical. The fluorescent tube is what most households use which contain this glow chemical in it. People love the fluorescent tube because it has a long lifespan, it is affordable, and it is efficient.

What Does This Tube Contain in It?

The tube has a little bit of mercury and a small vacuum inside of it. Electricity will get released and make the mercury produce an invisible UV light. This can hurt living organisms if they are exposed to it. Phosphor powder is used to coat the tube. This phosphor is the element that is fluorescent.

A lot of materials can be found in phosphor, including oxides, zinc, and aluminium. Henning Brand, an alchemist from Germany, was the first person to discover this. In the year 1669, he took 5,500 litres of people’s urine and boiled it. His objective was to create silver from urine but instead, the urine glowed in the dark. This is the same glow element which is used in modern-day lamps.

Therefore, Blue Amber and phosphor have a very similar process. The only thing that makes phosphorescence and fluorescence different is how long they glow for.

Light must be understood if you are going to understand the fluorescent element of any of the mentioned optical brighteners, such as phosphor and Blue Amber.

However, people truly don’t understand light entirely. There is just a problem with a lot of theories behind it. Scientists would even agree that they don’t understand even 50% of everything about light. Their theories are nothing more than superficial explanations about the lighting process.

How about the light particles? What is their significance?

Scientists know that atoms release some type of energy when their electrons are stimulated. As the electrons orbit the atom, they move higher up in their orbit as energy gets passed into the UV particles of the atom. The electrons then come back down in its orbit while removing the extra energy.

Imagine women in crazy pink dresses that are jumping and laughing while their enlarged ribbons are bouncing. The bride throws the bouquet and one of her bridesmaids catches it. That bridesmaid becomes thrilled and leaves the group because she wants to show others the bouquet that she caught.

Now let’s suppose there is a guest at the reception who had previously broken this bridesmaid’s heart. She happens to spot this man and then throws the bouquet at him, causing him to get knocked out. She then returns to the group of bridesmaids while feeling satisfied.

Okay, what happened here?

Metaphorically, the bridesmaid acted as the electron and the bouquet was the invisible light particle. The bridesmaid bounced the bouquet to a higher orbit which was away from her regular circle. This caused the bouquet, or light particle, to get transformed into a new one as the electron, or bridesmaid, came bouncing back. So, what we learn here is that certain atoms have electrons orbiting them which convert one energy type into another.

Here is what we know.

Plants and some other types of natural elements contain molecules which have atoms that absorb invisible light. It then gets converted into visible light.

This means that fluorescence is a natural occurrence and Amber is derived from plants. Therefore, could Amber trees have had fluorescent elements in them? It seems likely so, especially for Dominican Amber. If you put Dominican Amber under a UV light, it turns to a light bluish colour. If you do the same to Baltic Amber, it won’t turn that colour.

There is no other fluorescent Amber other than Blue Amber, even during the daylight hours. This must mean that Blue Amber has more fluorescent molecules than regular Amber. But why is this? How did that happen? Nobody knows for sure.

There is a nice theory about it, though.

The Hypothesis of Anthracene/Perylene

Amber is derived from the resin of trees. The resin turns into Amber, while the tree’s other organic material turns into coal. This would explain why coal miners and diggers tend to find pieces of Amber during their search. Likewise, people who are searching for Amber in the ground will typically find coal.

Scientists understand that the partial combustion of wood and coal will generate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. One present component of this is Benzo(ghi)perylene. This occurs in the environment when the combustion of organic matters or pyrolysis is not complete.

Blue Amber has a different smell than regular Amber. When you see the word “aromatic” being used, it refers to the chemical properties of hydrocarbons. It has nothing to do with the odour or aroma of the Amber.

Anthracene is another fluorescent hydrocarbon which is well-known. When dye is artificially produced, it contains this hydrocarbon in it. You’ll also find it in insecticides, materials for coating, and wood preservatives. It does not have any colour, although it will glow blue if you expose it to UV light. If there are small amounts of naphthacene in the anthracene, you’ll see a greener fluorescent light instead of blue.

Does this mean that Blue Amber has more anthracene in it?

It takes a fire, or incomplete combustion, to generate the fluorescent molecules. Since ash residue was found in the Amber, that was why we thought fire caused the Blue Amber to get its colour.

Whenever there is fire, there is perylene and/or anthracene.

Two experts from the University of Pavia in Italy conducted studies recently which cleared all this up. They examined numerous Amber specimens using fluorescence spectroscopy, fluorescence measurements, and optical absorption. They concluded that the hydrocarbons’ spectra have a shape which resembles the diluted solutions found in tetracene, anthracene, and perylene. They have an emission which is almost like the Blue Amber’s spectral range. This means that the perylene is the fluorescent hydrocarbon which causes the blueness.

At H.K. Baptist University Kowloon, Hong Kong, S.A.R., Dr. Tong Tang conducted a series of tests which got him similar results. Below is Dr. Tang’s Fluorescence Data Curve.

Are you having trouble understanding all this scientific lingo? Think about it practically then. Take a piece of Blue Amber and go to your nearest nightclub. Either that or place the piece under the sunlight. Then you will understand…