How about this for finding your way home on your bike at night? The TPA laboratory in Pruszkow, Poland, has used phosphor, a synthetic material which lights up after exposure to sunlight, to produce some test bike lanes which glow bright blue in the dark with the aim of providing additional safety for cyclists and motorists alike.
“The material we used for the track gives light for over ten hours” said Igor Ruttmar from TPA Instytut Badan Technicznych “which means the road can radiate throughout the whole night and reaccumulate light the following day”.
Phosphor has been used in cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and plasma displays. They have sustained emission which means that they stay illuminated for extended periods of time. What is not known yet is how long the material will last in this application before losing its charge, which will determine whether the company continues with the product after the approximate 100m trial. Durability is also being assessed during the trial, as bike lanes built in this way are more expensive than conventional ones, although the company is assessing ways to optimise construction costs so the technology can be adopted at other locations.
This isn’t the first solar powered path. Eindhoven built a twinkling one to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s death, to evoke the artist’s famous swirls in the painting “Starry Night”. The Dutch version, however, used solar powered LEDs, whereas the Polish product requires no additional power or lighting supply.
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