Art Under a New Wavelength: Lesson Plan

When the inventor that designed a laser to detect pigments in skin cancer was visiting an art museum, he had an idea: Why not turn the laser on artwork to understand the layering of pigments? When the museum's discovered lasers could be used to probe pigments, they asked if lasers could be used to clean pigments. Watch how parts of a solution for one problem were used to solve another.

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

  • Chm1.1.3 — Analyze the structure of atoms and ions and explain the emission of electromagnetic radiation in spectral form in terms of the Bohr model.


Atom Builder Activity

  1. Explain to the students that this activity is to increase their familiarity with the Bohr diagram and also with the ways in which atoms interact. 
  2. Tell them to click on the “Bohr and Rutherford Describe Atomic Theory” link.
  3. Students can then go to the atom builder activity.


Have students bring in a flashlight and a laser pointer, to compare the light that comes from each instrument.


Interactive Activity: How a Laser Works — Energy exists in discrete units called quanta. Electrons absorb and emit quanta of light, known as photons; a laser works by packaging and directing those photons into a coherent beam. Check out this interaction to learn more about lasers.



Discussion Questions

  1. According to Niles Bohr’s theory regarding atomic structure, electrons exist in __________ around the nucleus of an atom.
  2. What are photons, and how are they emitted?
  3. Compare and contrast the light from a flashlight and light from a laser. How are they similar, and how are they different?
  4. Describe the process of deep image processing in the video. How is it similar to “probing a layer cake with a fork”?