Polymer Takes Cue From Glow Worms

How many times have you opened a bag or other enclosure, only to find that you don't have enough light to be able to see what's inside? An Austrian company may have a solution.

According to company spokesman Gerd Dressen: "Our foil simply copies what glow-worms have done for millions of years."

(From Nature's Magic - Bioluminescence -
Natural Phenomena with Medical Applications

This site has excellent multimedia presentations
on this subject.)

Researchers from Bayer Polymers in Austria were able to synthesize the chemicals that glow worms use, and then create layers of thin, luminescent foil. This foil can then be sewn into handbags or wallets, providing enough light for the bottom of the bag or enclosure. They found that even a very slight electrical charge could make the new chemical generate enough light to see by.

Production of their Smart Surface technology will start in spring; prototypes are already available. The strips require little electricity and are powered by a small watch battery.

The problem of low-level lighting has been tackled many times by science fiction writers. In his 2003 book Altered Carbon, Richard Morgan refers to illuminum, a kind of foil that gives off its own light. Fans of classic sf will of course remember Frank Herbert's glowglobe, from his award-winning 1965 novel Dune.

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