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I made a nifty invention that generates light...what do I do with it? Answered

 Ok, I was tinkering around with some  interesting materials today and I invented a strange thing. It's a chunk of greenish resin (impregnated with certain chemicals) about the size of a soda bottle cap.
I was shaping it with an electric sander (it had sharp edges), and I noticed it gave off dim green light wherever it was touching the sander.

I decide that the friction/heat generated by the sander somehow made it give off light...

So I went to a dark room and dropped it in a beaker filled with water I boiled in the microwave.

It gives off a pretty bright green light. Not bright enough to read by (unless it's big text), but easily bright enough to navigate a cluttered room.

I dunked it in cold water...and the light practically turns off.

It seems to get brighter the hotter it gets. I hit it with my torch, and it lit up REAL bright, and then "turned off" (that particular sample doesn't work now :S)

What should I do with it? Anyone have ideas for possible applications?


Discuss it IN PRIVATE with someone who understands chemistry. If its new and novel and useful, its patentable. If you broadcast whats in it in a forum like this, you'll never be allowed a patent......


 The trouble is...it's made commercially available products, and I just found an interesting new property. I don't think I can patent that sort of thing :/

New applications of pre-existing materials or systems are patentable.

Oh really! I might have something, then!

Check with a reputable agent familiar with your national patent regulations.

Awwww, but I want to know what it's made of!  I'm not going to run off and apply for a patent first, it just sounds really neat.

Grind it into a pigment , mix it with a carrier , and sell it as a heat activated paint.

Followup to Steve's comment:

(In the US -- but not elsewhere! -- you can apply for a patent for up to a year after first public disclosure. But that won't keep others from trying to apply before you do, and you need to clearly prove that you made the discovery before they did.)

At the very least, you should establish a clear date upon which you discovered
the principle; write all the specifics down and get it notarized.  Do this again when you figure out how it works.

HOWEVER: Principles of nature, in general, are not patentable. A device or process based upon the principle is. (Don't get me started on the genome patents. Or on software patents, even though my name is on several.)

 Patents are very expensive :(
I'll call it "thermoluminescence"

You should try and see if the light given off can trigger a voltage in a photovoltaic.  That would be a nice trick to convert the heat into electicity.

Well, you could just play spoiler and publish it, guaranteeing that nobody else can patent that particular approach by providing "prior art." Of course that doesn't make any money for you, but...

Odds are that this is a known effect, but ya never know. The fact that it eventually "burns out" suggests that what's happening is that the heat is allowing a reaction to occur, perhaps by making the resin permeable or perhaps just by raising things above the activation energy needed. But that's a wild unsubstantiated guess.

 It only burns out at temperatures over 400 degrees F. It works indeffinetly in hot water, which it below 212 degrees F.

 Since my test, I've developed a hypothesis. Is IR light emitted by hot water?

IR is emitted by anything that's hot or warm -- including you.

What's it made from (roughly)?


 Phosphorus, Erbium, (stabilized in epoxy resin) and others stuff I wrote down (but I don't remember right now)

White phosphorous. or a phosphor, which would be a different material?



8 years ago

A soup bowl, or fashion it into a shape and mount it on your cars bonnet.  Of course, you must first remove the heat shield under the bonnet.

Make really cool coffee cups out of it?


8 years ago

Cool, what's it made with?