Scientists Invent Wild New Color-Changing Sparklers

More beautiful sparklers might one day light up your celebrations.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
Amanda Kooser/CNET

From weddings to Independence Day celebrations, sparklers are a hot choice for bringing some light, fire and fun to a party. A team of researchers experimented with new recipes for sparklers and came up with some wild color-changing and branching pyrotechnic effects.

There are already sparklers on the market that change colors as they burn down, but these new formulations change mid-spark. The secret is in the materials that burn. Combining the rare-earth metal ytterbium with copper created a shower of long sparks that turned from gold to green. 

The American Chemical Society (ACS) released a video on Wednesday showing the sparkler experiments in action.

The team published its results in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Omega in August.   

The researchers also experimented with creating eye-catching fountains. "A powdered version of neodymium magnets created the most attractive fountain with continuously branching sparks, with each initial 'parent spark' shooting off many more sparks in just a fraction of a second," ACS said in a statement.

The striking sparklers won't be found at fireworks stands anytime soon. ACS noted "the researchers caution that the recipes must undergo further safety testing before they can be used in commercial products."