Chem Connections

Build a Better CD Player: How Can You Get Blue Light from a Solid?

Blue Light Image

lue light


Students should have been introduced to atoms, elements, and chemical formulas.

Chemistry Content

  • Periodic Properties
  • Nature of Light
  • Interaction of Light with Matter
  • Covalent, Ionic, and Metallic Bonding
  • Solids

Scientific Thinking

  • Recognizing trends
  • Making logical deductions and inferences
  • Interpreting graphs

George C. Lisensky, Beloit College
Herbert Beall, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Arthur B. Ellis and Dean J. Campbell, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Joanne Stewart, Hope College


This module challenges students to think about a materials design question, how to get light out of a solid, during two to three weeks of their chemistry course. Light-emitting solids are essential for many high technology materials and products, including compact disk (CD) players. Students make use of the periodic table to propose color-specific emitting solids based on knowledge of periodic properties, bonding, electronic transitions, solid structures and the properties of light.

Why should you study solids in a chemistry course?

  • Solids are as common in the real world as liquids and gases.
  • A large fraction of practicing chemists work in materials areas.
  • Solids provide fascinating illustrations of chemical principles.
  • High technology materials are an important part of everyday life.

Interdisciplinary aspects

The chemistry concepts covered in this module overlap with physics, materials science, geology, and engineering. The module also reinforces the electrical concepts of voltage, current, and resistance.


This module is designed for use in the introductory chemistry course.

Copyright ©1995-2000 UC Regents
Last modified: 10/18/00 at 11:43 AM