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Manual slide show with mineral names (use for slow or dial-up internet connections)Three wavelengths of ultraviolet lights are commonly used. Long-wave (LW) is the range found in low-cost "black" lights. Mid-wave (MW) and short-wave (SW) ultraviolet require special lights and filters. Around 80% of all fluorescent minerals respond to short-wave ultraviolet. A few specimens contain a variety of minerals that will respond to several UV wavelengths . Some minerals respond in a different color to a different UV wavelength. Fluorescent minerals can also exhibit phosphorescence, tenebrescence, and thermoluminescence.
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The coating inside the common fluorescent light is based on a fluorescent mineral. Fluorescent lights contain excited mercury vapor that generates ultraviolet light inside the glass tube. This ultraviolet light makes the coating on the inside of the glass tube fluoresce white. The fluorescent light was invented by French physicist Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel (1820-1891). Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) first used higher frequencies for more efficient fluorescent lighting. Fluorescence is seen in "neon" and "day glow" colors and the red color of rubies. New white LEDS actually emit ultaviolet and a flourescent material in the plastic converts UV to white light. Many laundry products contain a white fluorescing material that makes fabrics whiter. Synthetic fluorescent minerals are used to produce the phosphor color dots found in TVs and computer CRT displays. Cathodoluminescence is the light response produced by a mineral specimen or phosphor exposed to an electron beam in a vacuum. In some cases, mines have used ultraviolet light to locate the desired minerals. Short wave ultraviolet is also used in germicidal lights. Ultraviolet dyes and ink are also used in currency and biological research.
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Photographic Images (C) 2003 James O. Hamblen