Do you know much about the chemistry occurring in your everyday life? Do you use highlighters or glow sticks? Well, through our Chemistry Glows website we aim to explain how this common phenomenon called fluorescence works. From glow-in-the-dark-slime to Toby Jenkins’ Smartwounds, watch this video and use the website to discover how glowing chemistry can not only be fun but save lives!

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How does it Work?

So, Toby Jenkins has made this incredible plaster that glows to signal infection. But how does this work?

All wounds get colonised by bacteria, often including pathogenic species, but small populations are generally not harmful, and the immune system can clear them. See Figure 1. In some cases, though, a population of harmful bacteria grows too big for the immune system to handle, and clinical intervention is needed to clear it. “We believe that this transition normally happens several hours, if not longer, before any clinical symptoms become evident,” says Jenkins. Earlier detection might give doctors time to head off the infection even before such symptoms arise.

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 13.35.08Figure 1: Wound infection: all wounds contain bacteria, some get infected some do not

Jenkins states that the transition is “almost certainly” associated with the formation of a biofilm, a layer of microbes that work together and secrete a slimy substance to defend the colony against the immune system. At a high enough population density, the bacteria film switches on the production of toxins. The new dressing works because the outer layer of the dye-containing capsules is designed to copy aspects of a cell membrane. Toxins puncture the capsules like they would cells in the body, releasing the dye, which fluoresces when it is diluted by the surrounding gel.


Take a look at this video to see the bandage in action



In the News

“The innovators: colour-changing bandage to help fight antibiotic resistance”

Prototype dressing turns fluorescent when a wound is infected, allowing doctors to prescribe drugs only when needed.

Researchers at the University of Bath, led by Dr Toby Jenkins, have developed a type of dressing that can alert doctors when a wound becomes infected, avoiding the precautionary use of antibiotics.

The dressing releases a fluorescent dye in small dots when a wound, such as a burn, becomes infected, allowing medics to treat it quickly…

Read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/

“Glowing bandage could provide early infection detection for burn patients”

A new class of intelligent bandages is on its way, and may transform how doctors treat wounds, especially in burn patients who are highly susceptible to infection. This latest innovation comes out of the U.K. where researchers at the University of Bath have developed a dressing that turns fluorescent green when a wound becomes infected, reports MIT Technology Review……

Read more here: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/fluorescent-bandaid/

“Smart Bandage Signals Infection by Turning Fluorescent”

Bacterial infection is a fairly common and potentially dangerous complication of wound healing, but a new “intelligent” dressing that turns fluorescent green to signal the onset of an infection could provide physicians a valuable early-detection system.

Researchers in the United Kingdom recently unveiled a prototype of the color-changing bandage, which contains a gel-like material infused with tiny capsules that release nontoxic fluorescent dye in response to contact with populations of bacteria that commonly cause wound infections….

Read more here: https://www.technologyreview.com/

Who are we?

University of Bath

We are a group of university students set out to ‘Engage the Public in Chemistry Research’. What this means is that we want to interact with as many people possible to try and spark an interest in chemistry. This is being done by delivering fun activities at different events and schools. We aim to showcase our chosen research and promote the benefits of chemistry. A result of this could be inspiring future scientists including Undergraduate Chemists!

Through this website, we hope to make you more aware of how fluorescence works by ensuring we communicate the science effectively.  Then, we will explain a monumental use of this fluorescence through Toby Jenkins’ incredible research on ‘smart wounds’.

Find out more about studying Chemistry at The University of Bath here www.bath.ac.uk/

Our team:


Stem Cadets

Through partnering with STEM CADETS, we have been able to take Toby Jenkins’ research and the principle of fluorescence into schools.

Find out more


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