Glow sticks with TCPO

Different colored glow is obtained in vials.

Scientific name: Make glow sticks using TCPO and fluorescent dye


How to Make Different Colors of Glow Sticks

Fergusson College Chemistry Club : Traffic-lights and TCPO-Chemiluminescence reactions


Make a glow stick reaction with real chemicals

by NurdRage

TCPO(bis-2,4,6-(trichlorophenyl)oxalate) - luminescence

by Siły Zbrojne PK

Make Glow Sticks - The Science


Wear eye protection and lab gloves.

Avoid contact of hydrogen peroxide with skin.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

(C6H2Cl3)OC(O)C(O)O(C6H2Cl3) + H2O2 → 2C6H2Cl3OH + C2O4

C2O4 + Fluorophore → 2CO2 + Fluorophore*

Fluorophore* → Fluorophore + hv

Step-by-step instruction

  1. Mix about 10 ml of diethyl phtalate, 50 mg of TCPO, 3 mg of fluorescent dye, and 100 mg of sodium acetate in a vial.
  2. Stir to dissolve all compounds.
  3. Add about 3 ml of 30% hydrogen peroxide into the vial and stir it.
  4. Use various fluorescent dyes to obtain various colors. BPEA for green, rubrene for yellow, 9,10-diphenylanthracene for blue, and rhodamine B for red.
  5. You may mix the resulting solutions together to obtain overlapping colors.

Scientific background

TCPO reacts with hydrogen peroxide and produces an intermediate - 1,2-dioxetanedione. It decomposes to CO2 and excites a fluorophore. So the chemical reaction energy transfers to light emission energy of the excited fluorophore in these reactions.

The wavelength of the emitted light depends on the nature of the flurophore. Thus BPEA emits green light, rubrene - yellow, 9,10-diphenylanthracene - blue, rhodamine B - red.

There is no light emission without a fluorophore in this reaction.

Divanillyl oxalate, biphenyl oxalate also may be used as an energy source for fluorescence.


Published on 13 April 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst