New Jersey Fluorescent Minerals



 
 

 

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Introduction

The zinc mines of Franklin and the Sterling Hill in northern New Jersey are world famous. Known as the Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World, this local treasure produces some of the world's most brilliant and colorful fluorescent minerals.

What causes fluorescence? The atoms in some rocks, when exposed to ultraviolet light, are temporarily excited by the shorter wavelength of the ultraviolet light.  As a result, an electron of each atom is kicked out of its low energy state into a higher energy state.  This is short lived, when the electrons fall back to their low energy state they give off energy as visible light. This process is repeated until the source of the UV light is removed.

With phosphorescent minerals, the electrons are slow to fall back into their low energy state, and continue to give off visible light over a period of time after the UV light source is removed.

 (Short vid of Willemite phosphorescing)

UV lights come in several flavors, the most common is shortwave (SW). 90% of all fluorescent minerals will react to a shortwave UV light source. (Caution, Shortwave UV can cause sunburn and eye irritation).  Next in line are the longwave (LW) lights, also known as black lights. Some minerals respond to both, the different colors brought out by the two wavelengths are some of my favorite specimens.


(SW LW Transformation)

 

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