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Chemistry of Sunglasses
Episode 51st July 2022 • Chemistry Connections • Hopewell Valley Student Publication Network
00:00:00 00:09:46

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Chemistry Connections

The Chemistry of Sunglasses

Episode #5  

Welcome to Chemistry Connections, my name is Austin Martorana and Tyler Hersh and we are your hosts for episode #5 called The Chemistry of Sunglasses. Today we will be discussing about radiation and the reaction that causes a tint in the glasses. 

Segment 1: Introduction to Sunglasses

  • Have you ever put on sunglasses and been like, “How do these sunglasses block the sun.” Well, so did we.
  • Well that's actually very interesting because I’ve wanted to know this for a long time and doing research on it shared a lot of information like why do these little pieces of glass absorb UV rays and make everything a little bit darker?
  • Yea, i agree after this project I finally realized how the lenses block out light to help you see better. 
  • Some background information is that UV rays are a form of radiation wavelengths that is commonly found through sunlight. 
  • Not only do the sunglasses block out UV rays they have a specific reaction that takes place in the tints through excited electrons
  • Some background to electrons are when they hold more energy than when in their original state. This will cause them to be excited. 

Segment 2: The Chemistry Behind Sunglasses

  • Hey Tyler when you go to the beach do you wear sunglasses?
  • Yea, Austin I do they help protect my eyes from the sun. 
  • Today we are going to dive into exactly how sunglasses work to protect our eyes from the sun.  
  • Sunglasses have a mirror coating on the outside edges that work as a defense against the UV rays from the sun. 
  • The coating is treated with UV-absorbing chemicals so it can block harmful UV and reflect the light away. 
  • The tint from the sunglasses comes from the reaction between cations of the silver compound in them and the electrons of the glass.
  •  The cluster of silver electrons become excited when hit by light which makes them move back and forth which then allows silver to absorb the light and scatter it. 
  • The energy from the sun acts as both wave particles and electromagnetic energy which are called Photons. 
  • We can describe the characteristics of photons by wavelengths and frequency. 
  • Wavelengths play a big part in describing radiation and knowing which radiation is which. 
  • Radiation comes in 6 forms which are gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet radiation, visible light, infrared radiation, and radio waves. 
  • Even though there are so many types of radiation, our eyes are sensitive to only a certain range of electromagnetic particles which is visible light. 
  • This wave allows us to see colors when reflected or refracted. 
  • But the sun also allows us to see certain radions that are above and below the range of 400-750 nm. 
  • These rays are typically infrared, microwave, radio and the one that sunglasses are used for, ultraviolet. 

Segment 3: Personal Connections

  • I really never knew how sunglasses actually worked and how they protected your eyes. 
  • Yea austin isn’t it so cool how the UV rays get absorbed into the lens to reflect light away making your eyes have less stress on them from the sun. 
  • Yea Tyler I hate when I’m sitting in my chair in my living room playing fortnite and the sun shines right through the window onto my face and I can’t see. Thats when I get up, sprint to my room to get sunglasses, and rock some shades while Im playing fortnite so the UV rays can be reflected instead of getting absorbed by my regular glasses. Wearing sunglasses makes me perform a lot better because it blocks the sun and allows me to see my TV screen. 
  • Yea austin I hate playing with you whenever the sun is shining through your window because you normally suck and we lose all the time. I need to carry you whenever you complain about the damn sun saying it’s in your eyes. 
  • Well yea thats why I put my sunglasses on because the chemicals in the sunglass lens absorb the UV rays from the sun and reflect them which makes me see. 
  • Sunglasses also help me from getting eye damage from the sun on a nice warm summer day. This will help me in my future when I am an old man. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of Chemistry Connections. For more student-ran podcasts and digital content, make sure that you visit


Music Credits

Warm Nights by @LakeyInspired 

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