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Electroluminescent wire

Electroluminescent wire (often abbreviated to EL wire) is a thin copper wire coated in a phosphor which glows when an AC voltage is applied to it. It can be used to decorate vehicles or structures, much as rope light or Christmas lights are often used. Unlike these types of strand lights, EL wire is not a series of points but produces an unbroken line of visible light. Moreover, it is extremely thin and flexible, and thus may be used, for example, in clothing or costumes.


EL wire's construction consists of five major components. First is a solid-copper wire core. This core is coated with a phosphor. A very fine wire is spiral wound around the phosphor coated copper core. This fine wire is electrically isolated from the copper core. Surrounding this 'sandwich' of copper core - phosphor - and fine copper wire is a clear PVC sleeve. Finally, surrounding this thin clear PVC sleeve is a colored translucent PVC sleeve.

An electric potential of approximately 90 - 120 volts at about 1000 Hz (cycles per second) is applied between the copper core wire and the fine wire that surrounds the phosphor coated copper core. The wire can be modelled as a coaxial capacitor with about 1 nF of capacitance per foot, and the rapid charging and discharging of this capacitor excites the phosphor to emit light.

A resonant oscillator is typically used to generate the high voltage drive signal. Because of the capacitance load of the EL wire, using an inductive (coiled) transformer makes the driver a tuned LC oscillator, and therefore very efficient. The efficiency of EL wire is very high, and thus a few hundred feet of EL wire can be driven by AA batteries for several hours.


EL wire was originally developed by Elam EL Industries, using the Lytec registered name, and is manufactured in Israel and China. EL wire is now available from other manufacturers.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Electroluminescent_wire". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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