Photoluminescence is a spontaneous emission of light induced by the absorption of photons, and it has been a phenomenon of fascination since the earliest years of mankind. The first known written account of photoluminescence was discovered in a Chinese text dating back to the Song Dynasty somewhere between 960 and 1279 A.D. Countless folktales are recounted around the globe about light emitting gems and creatures. In fact, thousands of marine organisms including algae, sharks, sea stars, fish and more have light producing abilities. According to the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA), there are at least 1,500 known species of fish that luminesce. Some emit light to see in the darkest waters of the deepest seas while others emit light to attract a mate or as a life-saving tactic to defend against predators. ORCA’s ongoing research proves that bioluminescence in sea life continues to evolve many times over.
Companies are leveraging this brilliant inspiration from Mother Nature to increase the safety of our communities beyond the deep. Photoluminescent technology is also being used for energy efficiency. The International Fire Code and International Building Code now mandate the use of photoluminescent path markings in major structures to aid people in emergency evacuation during the absence of light. These markings are self-luminous – requiring no battery, electricity, or backup lighting. This is a failsafe system that costs a fraction of traditional lighting over time.
Here are some photoluminescent trends to look for in 2021.
- Rise in energy efficiency gained by self-luminous products. Companies will take greater advantages of opportunities to showcase eco-friendly efforts to conserve energy by installing photoluminescent signage, paint, and other products to attract customers and savings. Numerous surveys show that customers favor eco-friendly companies.
- Greater emphasis on long term and non-electrical systems for safe egress. The increase in natural disasters and other emergency situations will spur the adoption of photoluminescence in building plans for safe egress. Some of the leading photoluminescent brands confidently warranty their pigments for 25 years.
- More luminous consumer products for added visibility. The commercial industry for luminous products is nascent. Currently, the pigments are mainly lime green and used for hard hats, athletic visibility vests, key chains, bag clips, and similar products.
- A spike in online sales of photoluminescent powder in multiple bright colors. You can already find several vendors on Amazon selling a variety of professional grade and brightly colored photoluminescent powders for use in outdoor graffiti paint, nail polish, resin crafts, bath bombs, fabric paint, makeup, and more. There are so many new and popular uses including glow-in-the dark slime labs for kids and party favors for all fun evening occasions – making photoluminescent products a lucrative industry with a broad target audience beyond commercial building safety.
- Perhaps…more glow in the dark bike and pedestrian paths. Inspired by a project in the Netherlands, Texas A&M painted the first glow-in-the dark bike path in the United States in 2017. The path is located at an intersection with no traffic lights. The luminous paint soaks up the sun during the day and later glows a lighted path for cyclists at night.
Undoubtedly, more creative and intelligent uses of photoluminescence will lengthen this list of trends. We’re literally just scratching the surface above the sea.
By Melethia at RS