Thursday, January 29, 2004

Cool Beans!

There's a great article in todays Wall Street Journal about making plastic that can be molded glow. This could have awesome implications for purses which can be lit up casting a soft glow inside of always dark and for the larger purses, cavernous purses. We can't buy the purses here yet...but you know that they will make their way over here. What a great invention! It will also be available for other technology. Take a look at parts of the article below.

Or more specifically, the answer is electroluminescence, a technology that generates a cool, gentle light - but not heat - when the chemical coating on plastic is electronically stimulated.
That's just one of several ways that EL differs from traditional light bulbs. Incandescent bulbs burn out and are inefficient: Much of the energy they use is thrown off as heat, not light. EL lighting, on the other hand, uses electricity to light up specially treated plastic. This chemically treated plastic generates so little heat that it remains cool to the touch, doesn't burn out and uses less energy. EL has been around for decades, but for years researchers puzzled over applications for it because of its low light intensity and the fact that originally it only worked on flat, rigid spaces.

A recent innovation in plastics is likely to give the technology a big boost. Scientists and engineers at Bayer AG say they are among the first to market a plastic film that not only lights up, but also can be molded into three-dimensional shapes. Bayer teamed up with Swiss lighting company Lumitec, which licensed the EL technology to Germany's Bree in an exclusive deal. Last fall, Bree unveiled a big, portfolio-size leather purse with a clear, flexible 6-inch-by-5-inch plastic sheet that glows inside the bag. The panel, powered by a nine-volt battery and controlled by a tiny switch tucked away inside the bag lining, is bright enough to light both sides of the purse's cavernous interior. and finally

The new use for EL opens up an array of new possibilities for electroluminescence in the $40 billion global lighting market. Scientists and engineers predict, for example, that in a matter of years, clothes that glow could be all the rage. Auto makers are pondering ways to use its soft, glowing light for car interiors, and lighting designers see a growing niche for EL in interior design.
Bayer's foray into lighting underscores a broader trend for chemical companies that seek to shed mature assets and develop new, more profitable applications for their products. As the chemical makers try to reinvent themselves, companies such as Bayer, Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., and DuPont Co., Wilmington, Del., are joining forces with smaller lighting businesses to develop technology that requires only a fraction of the energy used by an incandescent or even fluorescent bulb.
"Light bulbs owned the last century," says Robert Kumpf, vice president of business development for Bayer Polymers, Americas. "Modern lighting technology will own the next."
One such "modern" form of lighting, using LEDs, or light emitting diodes, is gaining prominence in traffic lights, electronics control panels and eventually even automobile headlights. Strategies Unlimited, a market-growth research firm in Mountain View, Calif., predicts the $2.7 billion LED market will more than double to $5.5 billion by 2008.
EL is another promising alternative to the incandescent bulb, though its potential is still unclear, analysts haven't yet predicted its total market potential.
The $350,000 2002 Mercedes Maybach is the first car to boast an electroluminescent headliner - the ceiling of a car's interior - stylishly bathing the inside of a vehicle in light. The new EL light gives auto designers more flexibility, since bulbs tend to take up considerable space, eat up more power and give off heat.
EL "creates a mood," says Ron Steen, director of lighting, research and design at Schefenacker Vision Systems U.S.A. Inc. The unit of Schefenacker AG, a closely held German lighting firm, sells the product developed with DuPont.

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