See Part I of this adventure here.
Part II: In which our hero discovers how to extract fluorescent dyes from permanent markers
I found this nice YouTube video demonstrating water-based extraction of fluorescent dyes from permanent markers. It’s pretty self-explanatory. I would use this dye as a first attempt to stain non-colored analytes following TLC separation on homemade TLC plates, be they starch, chalk, or cellulose.
You could also try just ordering dyes, but it is not as clear to me whether these would work to stain TLC plates. If you think so (or don’t think so) let me know in the comments. Traditional chemistry separations use permanganate or iodine solutions to stain TLC plates – iodine for sure you can get in a drugstore, but permanganate?
I have yet to try either part I or Part II, but intend to soon. I will post the results here, unless some enterprising student wants to try it for me and send me the results (hint, hint). I hope you students are paying attention – this would be a rocking science fair project!
P.S. The dye extraction YouTube video makes mention of home-made dye lasers, and I have seen plans floating around on the ‘net. Expect this as a future fun science-at-home post.