If you can get beyond the heavy hype, it appears Planilum – billed by its developers as “the world’s first light-emitting material,” a “technology that redefines our relationship with light” and light that “establishes a dialogue between the ethereal and the functional” – might actually be a great product. Its codevelopers – Paris’ Saazs Institute and Saint-Gobain – say the technology doesn’t depend on bulbs or other light sources but, instead, Planilum material itself radiates light. The material is said to be nontoxic, 90 percent recyclable, RoHS-certified, requires 100W of power and can last for 50,000 hours or about 20 years of conventional residential use, according to the Saazs Institute’s website. The makers say the light is “non-dazzling.” Because the light’s heat is dissipated over both sides of the material’s surface,
Planilum’s temperature is about equal to that of a human body, the website claims. This enables Planilum lights to be touched and eliminates the need for filters, diffusers, lamp shades or other kinds of protection, the site notes. The Sept. ’08 edition of Materials World magazine reports that Planilum is about 0.8 inches thick and comprised of “four layers of tin-doped indium oxide conductive glass containing an ionized plasma gas.” Within the next three years, the magazine says, Saazs and Saint-Gobain plan to develop Planilum glass plates that will be as effective as neon lights but, unlike neon, won’t bleed toxic mercury if broken. Currently, Planilum panels are strong enough to stand alone and already are being incorporated into standard and customized shelves and tables.