I want to make my own UV reactive substances
December 30, 2011 12:19 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to take a clear plastic and make it photochromatic, like you find in transition eyeglass lenses.

This is for a small, one-off project, so any ideas that are difficult or expensive may still be worth it.

Imagine taking a small, clear plastic figurine and making it darken under UV light. I'd either have to make a photochromatic material and cast it into the desired shape, or make the figurine and coat it to make it photochromatic.

The most information I've found so far are on the wikipedia and how stuff works pages.

They seem to suggest that a chemical bath of Silver Halide or Silver Chloride would create the effect, but as I'm not a chemist I'm hoping for someone to either say "oh that's easy!" or "oh that's crazy!".

Beyond that does anyone know of any materials suppliers that happen to have photochromatic plastics?

A long shot question I know, but thanks for your help!
posted by breakfast! to Science & Nature (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Unfortunately, I don't believe they use silver halide in photochromic plastic lenses. Silver halide was used in glass lenses, but I don't think it works well in polymers. The last I heard was that plastic lenses use naphthopyran dyes. And, as that article says, it's probably not stock polycarbonate that they embed the dye in.

Your best bet might be to contact a company like SolarActive who might have a spray/coating that might be able to use. Of course, you might need to buy a 55-gallon drum or something...
posted by Fortran at 3:01 PM on December 30, 2011

ETA: This page seems to say that SolarActive might be able to supply resin concentrates. But, again, it might be only be available in massive orders. Still, can't hurt to ask!
posted by Fortran at 3:03 PM on December 30, 2011

Thanks Fortran, I emailed SolarActive for a quote.
posted by breakfast! at 6:41 PM on January 1, 2012

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