Chlorophyll is a molecule found in plants that gives them their green color and plays a big part in photosynthesis. It can also be fun to extract from plants and do some fluorescence experiments with since in ultraviolet light it shows up as red.
Extracting chlorophyll from spinach
Here's how to extract chlorophyll from spinach though the same technique should work with many other green leafs and even green grass. The fresher the plant the better.
Step 1. Chop up some fresh spinach.
Step 2. Put it in a container. I'm using a plastic cup.
Step 3. Pour in some rubbing alcohol. You can get rubbing alcohol in drug stores/pharmacies or the sections of grocery stores that carry medicinal items.
Step 4. Put a coffee filter in a second container and transfer the contents from the first cup into it. Do a little at a time if the coffee filter is too small for all of it.
Step 5. Gradually the rubbing alcohol will carry some chlorophyll into the second cup, leaving that cup with a green liquid.
Step 6. When there's practically no more liquid in the coffee filter you're done.
Testing the chlorophyll using fluorescence via sunlight
When you shine ultraviolet light on chlorophyll it gives off red light by a process called fluorescence. And the easiest place to get ultraviolet light is the sun. So here's perhaps the easiest way to test if you succeeded in getting chlorophyll, plus it makes a neat science project demonstration.
Below I've simply sat the container of chlorophyll in direct sunlight. I put it on a dark background, otherwise there would be a lot of glare from the reflected sunlight and I wouldn't be able to see the color of the chlorophyll clearly. But you can see that it appear reddish.
To get an even stronger effect, I use a magnifying glass to concentrate the sunlight, which includes both the visible light and ultraviolet light. You can clearly see the the chlorophyll is giving off red light.
Using a homemade TEA laser to make chlorophyll fluoresce
My homemade TEA laser puts out ultraviolet light, which you can't see with the naked eye. But if you shine it through a container of chlorophyll then it makes the chlorophyll fluoresce red, making the laser beam visible since we can see red light.
But first I had to make get a mix of chlorophyll that wasn't so dense, otherwise the laser beam wouldn't get very far through the liquid. So I poured some alcohol into another container and added some of the chlorophyll which I previously made.
Video - How Fluorescence works using TEA Lasers and the Electromagnetic Spectrum
In this video I explain fluorescence and then do some demonstrations. The last demonstration is the one where I show how to extract chlorophyll from spinach and then make it fluoresce using concentrated sunlight and my TEA laser.