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Place your hand on the underside of the tiles. What do you see happening?

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Thermochromism occurs where a material changes colour due to heating, in this case from the heat of your hand. It gets its name from the Greek therm meaning heat and chrom meaning colour.

How does it work?

Our exhibit uses liquid crystal technology, a material which expands or contracts based on temperature. Thermochromic materials change the wavelength of light they reflect as their temperature changes. This means that different wavelengths of visible light are being reflected into our eyes, ranging from violet to red. This light is called the visible spectrum. Our eyes are designed to detect reflected light within the visible spectrum. In the spectrum are all the colours that we can see, and what colour we see depends on which wavelengths of light are being reflected by an object.

Thermochromism in everyday life

Thermochromism found often on novelty coffee mugs use materials called leucodyes which are organic carbon based chemicals. These change from colourless to coloured when heated.

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Nearby exhibits

Look Closer

Welcome to Look Closer, Techniquest's brand new digital tool. We're trialling Look Closer as a way of offering you a closer look at the science demonstrated by many of our exhibits. You'll find visitor sheets, videos, articles on contemporary science as well as fun trails to navigate your way around the exhibition space.

Speak to our Science Communicators to find out more.