Light mysteries at SciFest

5 March 2019

Hi there! Ann Magnuson at the Department of Chemistry-Ångström who will participate in the SciFest workshop "We are bright sparks!":

What is your workshop about?

“The research we’re doing is largely about various types of light chemistry or photochemistry which is the technical term. It’s the case of different types of chemical reactions and processes that are driven by light energy. A large part of our research is related to solar energy, so much of what we’re working on is about how light energy can be converted into other forms of chemical energy, as a way to store solar energy.”

“The theme of our workshop is photochemistry. But since we want it to be accessible for children and adolescents, we’re focusing on simpler experiments. Therefore, it will not be too research related. What will be more directly linked to research is that we plan to have a water plant on site in a jar. When the visitor submits it to light using a regular lamp, very small oxygen bubbles will appear on the plant. Our plan is to watch and discuss this phenomenon, which is about photosynthesis; that what we inhale is transformed into oxygen. We will also show how to make solar cells of items you have at home.”

How come your workshop has the name it has?

"We tried to come up with some witty title that would connect to our chemistry theme. We will show several experiments involving chemical substances that absorb light, where the visitor will take part of the journey.”

Discover the mystery of chemistry! reads your workshop description – do you have any mystery of chemistry you find particularly fascinating?

“One of the mysteries of chemistry that many are absorbed with is to understand how plants do when splitting water. That’s what researchers want to copy, which is called artificial photosynthesis. Now we have perhaps come a little closer to the solution, but it’s a mystery we keep coming back to.”

The United Nations has proclaimed 2019 the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements, 150 years after its invention – what do you think should be highlighted a year like this?

“A non-chemist who looks at the periodic table might consider it a list of elements. But for us chemists, it contains an enormous amount of information. Not just what the elements weigh, but the order in the system also contains a lot of information. It's like a code. If you can decipher the code, you can learn a lot about chemistry. The Periodic table is like a key to the mystery of chemistry.”


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