July 9, 2012


Triboluminescence is a physical process through which light is generated when materials are crushed, rubbed, and ripped - as electrical charges are separated and reunited. The resultant electrical discharge ionises the nearby air, triggering flashes of light.

Commonly known as 'Smash Glow Crystals', the triboluminescent property of certain materials has always intrigued the masses on the internet.

Google those phrases, watch the videos, and prepare to be mesmerised. 

Further reading:

The spectrum of light produced by (sugar) triboluminescence is the same as that for lightning. In both cases, electrical energy excites nitrogen molecules in the air. Most of the light emitted by nitrogen in the air is in the ultraviolet range that our eyes cannot see, and only a small fraction is emitted in the visible range. When the sugar crystals are stressed, positive and negative charges accumulate, finally causing electrons to jump across a crystal fracture and excite electrons in the nitrogen molecules.

Different triboluminesence light have different spectra. The duct tape videos that you see on the Internet mostly emit light in the form of X-rays. In some cases, they could be strong enough to create an x-ray image!

Sugar triboluminescence was one of the first known scientific occurrence of tri-(this word is really hard to spell). 


  1. First I was afraid of the length of the word .. but well explained .. Thanks for the info!

  2. Got to agree with tonyhlav. Big words may be scary, but you explained something very clever to add to my misc info knowledge ^^ thank you!

  3. i understand the concept of two objects rubbing against each other and generating heat as they rub atoms together, any exchange of friction will yield to heat and dissipation of energy, well that is how i always figured it, and i didnt know all these objects could flare off light as such! you should put up some cool videos from the youtubes XD

  4. Well this will be my "word of the day", thanks for the clear and concise explanation!


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