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Blue bottle light: lecture demonstrations of homogeneous and heterogeneous photo-induced electron transfer reactions

Mills, A. and Lawrie, K. and McFarlane, M. (2009) Blue bottle light: lecture demonstrations of homogeneous and heterogeneous photo-induced electron transfer reactions. Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences, 8 (3). pp. 421-425. ISSN 1474-905X

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Abstract

The classic, non-photochemical blue bottle experiment involves the reaction of methylene blue (MB) with deprotonated glucose, to form a bleached form of the dye, leuco-methylene blue (LMB), and subsequent colour recovery by shaking with air. This reaction is a popular demonstrator of key principles in kinetics and reaction mechanisms. Here it is modified so as to highlight features of homogenous and heterogeneous photoinduced electron transfer (PET) (Pure Appl. Chem., 2007, 79, 293-465) reactions, i.e.blue bottle light experiments. The homogeneous blue bottle light experiment uses methylene blue, MB, as the photo-sensitizer and triethanolamine as the sacrificial electron donor. Visible light irradiation of this system leads to its rapid bleaching, followed by the ready restoration of its original colour upon shaking away from the light source. The heterogeneous blue bottle light experiment uses titania as the photo-sensitizer, MB as a redox indicator and glucose as the sacrificial electron donor. UVA light irradiation of this system leads to the rapid bleaching of the MB and the gradual restoration of its original colour with shaking and standing. The latter dark step can be made facile and more demonstrator-friendly by using platinised titania particles. These two photochemical versions of the blue bottle experiment are used to explore the factors which underpin homogeneous and heterogeneous PET reactions and provide useful demonstrations of homogeneous and heterogeneous photochemistry.