News archive 2006
The Essence of Fluorescence25 January 2006, PR07/06
Mark Miodownik, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering and founder of the Materials Laboratory at King's, has designed and created The Essence of Fluorescence with artist and PhD student, Zoe Laughlin for the After Image space at the Hayward Gallery as part of the Dan Flavin: A Retrospective exhibition, which opened on the 19 January and runs until 2 April.
Dan Flavin: A Retrospective is the first comprehensive exhibition of this American artist's work. One of the most innovative figures in 20th-century art, Flavin (1933-96) used fluorescent light as his medium, adapting mass-produced, commercially-available materials into works of ‘profound intensity and astounding beauty'.
The Essence of Fluorescence explores the nature of fluorescent materials using the medium of a cabinet of curiosity. Each material within the cabinet is lit individually, going through a sequence of lighting: 10 seconds of visible light, 10 seconds of UV light and 120 second of darkness. These lighting arrangements allow the phenomena of fluorescence, phosphorescence, bioluminescence, and luminescence to be explored.
Dr Miodownik comments: ‘The pigments that coat the inside of fluorescent tubes in the Dan Flavin work, convert ultraviolet light into visible light. This fluorescence could be created by crushed uranium, scorpions, diamonds, or cheese, however modern tubes use synthetic pigments, called phosphors, which allow the light to be tuned using europium and terbium to create specific colours. Some fluorescent materials do not give out visible light immediately and thus act as light stores. This is phosphorescence, and it allows us to create the Milky Way on bedrooms ceilings and other temporary night-time miracles.'
Like many other things, fluorescence has gone nano. In the biology, physics and materials science labs of King's and many other universities, fluorescence lights up not rooms, but individual cells and nanostructures. The Essence of Fluorescence attempts to capture this intricate legacy of Flavin's fluorescent tubes.
King's College LondonKing's College London is one of the two oldest and largest colleges of the University of London with over 13,800 undergraduate students and nearly 5,700 postgraduates in nine shools of study. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UKs major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.
King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of £100 million, and has an annual turnover of more than £348 million. In 2004 the College was once again awarded an AA- financial credit rating from Standard & Poor's.
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