Electroluminescence has come a long way since its discovery at the start of the 20thcentury. For many years the scientists who pioneered its development struggled to come up with practical applications for electroluminescent technology – early uses of the discovery lacked the lifespan to work as practical lamps and light sources, whilst its unreliability made it difficult to use in displays and interfaces.
Undeterred by their setbacks, the boffins working on electroluminescence didn’t give up, and thank goodness, because today electroluminescent light has evolved into a technology that has myriad applications all over the planet.
One of the applications of electroluminescence that holds the most potential is its use in electroluminescent wires (or EL Wires for short). EL Wire is essentially a standard copper wire that is coated in phosphor and then wrapped in a PVC sheath. When an AC current is applied to the wire it begins to glow, and yet as it glows it gives off no heat. The lack of heat emission makes EL Wires are totally different from other lighting technologies, and its three hundred and sixty degree light output opens up a whole field of uses that are unavailable or impractical using other lighting means.
EL Wires have been used to light everything from Christmas Trees to entire buildings, and their flexibility and ability to keep their shape has led to some startling lighting designs being produced. You may think you’ve never actually seen an EL wire in use, but if you’ve walked past an illuminated building (or seen the movie Tron) then you have.
One of the most exciting applications of EL Wire technology takes place in the clothing industry. Fashion designers and costume makers are taking advantage of the brightness EL Wire can bring to make their designs illuminating in more ways than one, while it’s applications are, protective clothing are revolutionising the safety industry.
But the area where EL Wire is in most demand is the field of amateur electronics. One of the best aspects of EL Wire is its simplicity –even someone with no experience of electronics can shape the wire and attach it to a current, meaning that the delights and creative potential EL wires offer are available to all.
Hobbyists and electronics enthusiasts have been buying up hundreds of metres of the stuff to use for their projects. Whether it’s to give their designs a more high tech feel and more futuristic appearance, or to create stunning electronic pieces in their house or home, EL wire has been a godsend to creative amateurs for whom this advanced technology would have been unaffordable a few short years ago.
El Wire is available in countless different colours and lengths, and (thanks to the internet) it is now easy to source. If you’re an electronics enthusiast, or indeed anyone looking to work with light in a creative way, then I’d highly recommend visiting the website of a company called Proto-PIC (http://proto-pic.co.uk/categories/Electroluminescent-Materials/). Founded by electronics enthusiasts for electronic enthusiasts, Proto-PIC’s site has a mind-boggling variety of electronic devices available to buy at incredibly good rates.
– By Claryjosee
*About the Author:
Claryjosee is an online freelance copywriter who has covered a number of topics relating to ELWire and electronics projects