Fireworks, colour and the electron
White light is made up of many colours. This becomes obvious when a rainbow forms during rainy days where the sun is also shining. Rainbow
Fireworks are a very spectacular and exciting demonstration of the relationship between energy and the electron. Click to see a 120 kb video of a typical display.
The many colours visible during a fireworks display are due to electrons moving up and down the energy levels of the atom.



A typical fireworks shell contains an explosive mixture with pellets of metal compounds evenly distributed within it.

The explosive material blows the pellets in all directions while the black powder ignites the pellets and releases heat energy that is used to excite the electrons of the metal atoms to higher energy levels. Click on the link at the bottom to see a more detailed explanation of how colour is created. Colour is created according the metal compound present in the pellet. Copper compounds, for example, create brilliant green and blue colours.

This can be demonstrated in class by a simple flame test.