|MLA Citation:||Bloomfield, Louis A. "Question 637"|
How Everything Works 18 Jan 2018. 18 Jan 2018 <http://howeverythingworks.org/print1.php?QNum=637>.
In a firefly, the molecule that is being oxidized is called luciferin. It's combined with oxygen and the important biological energy storage molecule ATP (adenosine triphosphate), assisted by a catalyst protein called luciferase. A series of reactions then occurs, culminating in the formation of excited decarboxyketoluciferin. This molecule emits a photon of green light and becomes normal decarboxyketoluciferin.
Luminol, a molecule used in many cold light products, is a somewhat simpler molecule that is much easier to synthesize commercially than is luciferin. When it's oxidized with hydrogen peroxide and potassium ferrocyanide, it forms an excited molecule that emits a photon of blue light. This blue light is often shifted to green or orange with the help of a fluorescent dye. The dye absorbs the blue light and uses its energy to emit green or orange light. This material is commonly used in light sticks and glowing necklaces or toys.