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Zinc sulfide is a chemical with the formula ZnS. It occurs in nature as the black mineral sphalerite, but it is more often produced synthetically. It has a wide range of uses, from its luminescent properties to its use as a paint pigment and photocatalyst.

Luminescence of ZnS is caused by the recombination of electrons in the crystal lattice. Upon excitation by light, the electrons rearrange to recombine with zinc ions. This results in the emission of a blue-green light that is detectable at wavelengths up to 600 nanometers. The phosphorescence can be prolonged by doping with silver, manganese or copper. The most widely used form of zinc sulfide is glow powder, which has been used for decades in a variety of applications from Halloween novelties to body paint and soaps. The most common activators are silver and copper, which produce the familiar greenish glow-in-the-dark color (ZnS plus Cu).

Glow powder is made by mixing a solution of Zn2+ salts with an oxidizing agent, such as sodium hydroxide, to generate a precipitate that contains sulfide ions. The resulting material is then filtered and roasted to release sulfur dioxide, yielding the glowing powder.

Zinc sulfide is an irritant to the skin and eyes, and can cause burning in the case of contact. It is also a respiratory hazard and may release toxic hydrogen sulfide if inhaled or ingested. If exposed, wear respiratory and eye protection and flush the affected area with water until symptoms stop.

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