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General FAQ

Story of Fluorescence

Q: What is Black Light?

A: Longwave ultraviolet (black light) is the popular name for near-ultraviolet radiant energy, which falls just outside the visible spectrum. When it falls upon certain materials, it makes them “fluoresce,” that is, to “emit visible light.” What actually occurs is a conversion of energy. The ultraviolet that is invisible, falls upon the fluorescent surface and is absorbed and re-radiated at longer wavelengths in the visibility range of the human eye.

In technical terms, fluorescence is caused by a conversion of energy. Ultraviolet radiation is absorbed by certain materials and re-emitted as visible light radiation. The cause of this phenomenon is the absorption of energy by the material’s electrons. When they absorb extra energy they jump into higher energy orbital patterns surrounding their nucleus. Eventually they release this energy as visible light when they fall back to their normal orbital shell. Various fluorescent colors are determined by the difference between the original electron orbital and the new excited orbital pattern.

Q: What purpose do the longwave & shortwave lights provide?

A: The wave designates what will fluoresce, as things can be identified by using the proper wavelength. UV-A – longwave – used for leaks, fingerprints, dyes UV-C – shortwave – used to identify minerals and gems. Also used to kill bacteria, viruses and pathogens.

Q: What are the common ultraviolet applications?

A: Ultraviolet lights make things visible that are unable to be seen with the naked eye. Virtually every scientific field, manufacturing, or service industries employ the use of ultraviolet radiation directly or indirectly.


Dyes and Dye Markers:
Fluorescent dyes are used in product packaging, posters and signs, theatrical make-up and staging, and laundry dyes. These dyes utilize the UV rays from the sun and artificial indoor lighting. The phrase "whiter than white" is not advertising hype. Fluorescent crayons and inks are also used for marking alteration patterns in clothing and bulk cloth for the garment industry.

Automotive and Industrial Leak Detection/Pollutants
Fluorescent dyes are also used in concentrated form as markers for air/sea search rescues and as tracers in ground water studies. Liquid and gaseous dyes and powders are used for leak detection in countless industrial and automotive systems. Tracing their waste to their “doorstep” using UV portable lamps has successfully prosecuted some industrial polluters. Environmental clean up crews can locate pollutants and then have them analyzed for proper clean up and disposition.

DNA Enhancement Dyes
Ethidium Bromide, a fluorescent dye, is used for enhancing DNA molecules for research and study.

Criminal Identification & Law Enforcement
Invisible inks and dyes are used to mark the criminal during a crime. Fingerprint enhancement powders can be seen using ultraviolet light. UV photography specifically utilizing longwave UV penetrates deeper into the surface of the skin, thereby identifying bruises unseen with the naked eye. This can aid in prosecuting child abusers and identifying a particular weapon used.

Search & Rescue
Fluorescent dyes used in brightening clothing really do enhance their products. Since the widespread use of these laundry dyes has permeated our culture, it has been suggested that rescue teams use UV to locate drowning victims in murky waters.

Arson Accelerants;
Since most hydrocarbons fluoresce, law enforcement officials have been using UV for a variety of investigations. Arson investigators can photograph stains of hydrocarbon-based accelerants even after incineration. After locating these stains, samples are analyzed for exact composition. Several chemicals have a hydrocarbon base and leave a characteristic stain.

Invisible Personal Property Identification Markers
Many invisible inks and dyes are used for marking and identifying property.

Postal Stamp Inks
Certain postal stamps have fluorescent inks which help in routing and identification. The absence or presence of these dyes affects the value of these stamps to the philatelist collector.

Social Event Admission Stamp Markers
Invisible inks and dyes are used for hand stamps for social and sporting events.

Windshield Repair:
Longwave UV is used for gelling and curing applications for automotive glass repair.

Forgeries and Repairs of Artwork, Antiques, and Collectibles
Many epoxies, glues and paints fluoresce. Forgeries, fakes and repairs are detected using a UV lamp to locate differences in fluorescence. UV lamps can detect counterfeit currency absent of marker dyes.

Fungi, Ringworm, Bacteria, Urine, and Spermatozoa
Various medical and forensic uses for UV are to locate bacteria, urine, spermatozoa and many fungi such as ringworm.

Rodent Control
Many pest control companies use UV Lamps to locate rodent urine stains. They can then set their traps and baits along known runways and infested areas.

Scorpions and other Anthropoids and Insects:
These fluoresce, by using UV, it enables these to be located so they can be removed from unwanted areas).

Hunters use special sprays to eliminate UV dyes in their clothing and equipment. UV light can also assist the hunter in locating a blood trail.

Valuable Ores, Minerals, Gems, and Hydrocarbons:
Various objects are naturally fluorescing and can be located and sometimes identified by the use of UV lamps alone. Several important ores of tungsten, zinc and uranium are fluorescent. Some mines sort out the high-grade ore passed under an ultraviolet lamp on conveyors. Mineral collectors also use UV to collect interesting but non-economic fluorescent minerals. UV identifies many natural gemstones as natural from their synthetic counterparts. Oil companies usually have a UV lamp on their drilling rigs. The longwave UV causes hydrocarbons to fluoresce indicating the oil bearing strata.

Adhesive Curing:
Several epoxies are designed to set when exposed to UV radiation. This gives ample time for alignment of parts. Then, when you are ready, just expose it to UV, usually longwave UV light.

DNA and other Molecular Bond Breakdown:
Shortwave UV is used in the breakdown of DNA molecular bonds while longwave UV is used for gelling and curing applications for genetic research.

Sanitation and Germicidal:
Shortwave UV is an effective germicidal tool. It is used in sanitizing lab ware, air, water, and whole rooms. Sanitation services spray washable UV dyes on laundry to ensure complete sanitation. The absence of the fluorescing dyes ensures the job was done. UV lamps aid in the detection of organic mineral deposits that remain on surfaces where periodic cleaning and sanitizing may not be properly accomplished. Both urine and phosphate soaps are easily detected using UV inspection. Pet urine deposits in carpeting or other hard surfaces can be detected for accurate treatment and removal of mineral tracers and the odor causing bacteria that feeds on the proteins within. Many hospitality industries use UV lamps to inspect for unsanitary bedding to determine life cycle for mattress restoration as well as general performance of the cleaning staff. UV lamps are helpful in identifying unsanitary conditions in hotels, public toilets, hand rails etc.

Treatment of Skin Disorders
Patients with skin disorders such as psoriasis, vitiligo, dermatitis, dyshidrosis, eczema, lichen planus are often treated with high doses of UV light concentrated to the affected area.

Q: Other than a UV light, what else do I need to get started?

A: We recommend our book, “The Story of Fluorescence” and UV glasses to protect your eyes.

Q: Can I photograph things under UV light?

A: It is recommended that you contact your camera manufacturer for available lenses and filters specifically designed for UV photography.

Q: How do I tell shortwave and longwave apart:

A: Shortwave tubes are clear.
Longwave tubes are frosted.
Shortwave filters are smooth and polished.
Longwave filters are rippled.

LS-4 4 Watts

Q: What are the applications for this light?

A: The Model 4 (LS-4) is ideal for use in the home or classroom. The LS-4 includes both longwave and shortwave, enabling the selection of either wave or both simultaneously. This feature allows greater visibility of fluorescing items.

Q: How close does the light need to be to what I am examining?

A: The optimum distance is 3” to 6” between the lamp and the object being examined.

Q: What is the output intensity at 6"?

A: The SW produces 210 microwatts/CM2. The LW produces 200 microwatts/CM2.

Model LS-7 LW/SW UV Lamp

Q: What are the applications for this light?

A: This lamp is recommended for laboratories, educational applications, mineral collectors and philatelists.

Q: How does this differ from the LS-4?

A: The LS-7 has a larger filter area.

Q: How close does the light need to be to what I am examining?

A: The optimum distance is 3” to 6” between the lamp and the object being examined.

Q: What is the output intensity at 6"?

A: The SW produces 230 microwatts/CM². The LW produces 250 microwatts/CM².

Model 88 Superstar, 12 watt UV lamp

Q: What are the applications for this light?

A: The Model 88 provides an intense flood of either longwave or shortwave ultraviolet easily. This will fluoresce a wider area for visibility.

Q: How large an area will this cover?

A: This lamp is ideal for an area of one to two square feet.

Q: What is the output intensity at 6"?

A: The SW produces 190 microwatts/CM². The LW produces 230 microwatts/CM².

Model 218

Q: What are the applications for this light?

A: The Model 218 is designed to be mounted within a display case.

Q: Do I need any special construction materials within the display case so as not to interfere with the fluoresce properties of the item on display?

A: The background should be black to maximize the intensity. A glass special plastic will protect viewers from SW radiation.

Q: How close does the light need to be to what I am examining?

A: At 18" this covers a 2’ x 4’ display area, at 20” it will cover a 3’ x 5’ display.

Q: What is the overall size of the Model 218?

A: 19.5” x 4.5” x 3.5”

Q: What is the output intensity at 6"?

A: The SW produces 560 microwatts/CM². The LW produces 460 microwatts/CM².

Raytector 5-2

First switch off the lamp and place it on its back. Remove the four screws located on either side of the lens cover. Then rotate the tube ¼ turn and slip out of the socket. Replace with #11-054 shortwave and #11-071 longwave tubes. Reassemble the lamp.

Q: How long with the battery last?

A: The battery will last you approximately 3 to 5 years, depending on usage.

Q: Can I change the battery myself?

A: Yes, just follow these instructions:

  1. Remove the black plastic cover by removing the (4) Philip screws. Cover will now slide off.
  2. Remove the filter glass assembly by removing the (4) Philip side screws.
  3. Separate the body halves by removing the (3) Philip screws recessed in the body. The outer labels will prevent the halves from separating. You can avoid cutting the labels by hinging the halves carefully at the labels.
  4. Once the lamp is open, you can see the battery. Remove the battery bracket by removing the (2) Philip screws.
  5. Remove the battery. Carefully pull off the slip-on leads. Note the polarity, red for positive, black for negative.
  6. Replace the battery with a Panasonic valve regulated lead-acid battery. Model No. LCRO64R5CH (available from Radio Shack) or equivalent.
  7. To reassemble, reverse the above steps.
  8. Dispose of the old battery in a proper manner.

Q: How big is the Raytector (R5)?

A: 10” x 5.5” x 3”

Q: Will the Raytector (R5) work in the daytime?

A: No, it is best used in a dark room or at night.

Q: How do I operate the Raytector (R5) on the battery?

A: Your new Raytector (R5) has a built-in rechargeable sealed lead acid battery designed for long life. When the on/off switch is depressed, the green indicator light will light indicating the lamp is in operation. Battery operation will give the lamp 5 to 7 hours of use when fully charged.

Q: How do I clean the filters?

A: Use a soft cloth with Windex.

Q: What is the output intensity at 6”?

A: The SW produces 190 microwatts/CM². The LW produces 180 microwatts/CM².


Q: What are the applications for this light?

A: The Versalume is lightweight and portable. The Versalume is designed for small item analysis. This is designed with a built in lamp stand for hands free operation.

Q: How close does the light need to be to what I am examining?

A: 1” to 3” is the optimum distance from the lamp to the object under examination.

Q: What is the expected battery life?

A: With intermittent use, the batteries should last approximately 5 hours.

Q: What is the output intensity at 6”?

A: The SW produces 40 microwatts/CM². The LW produces 50 microwatts/CM².