Durel Corporation is a joint venture of 3M and Rogers Corporation
Founded in 1988, their chief product is an electroluminescent sheet called DUREL 3. The material comes in different colors: blue, green, blue-green and a pleasant white.
It appears as a flexible, paper-like sheet; it can be but with scissors, punched and stamped.
What does this stuff do? When fed the proper type of electrical current, it emits light. Quite a lot of light, in fact, on the order of 30 cd/m2.
What is so wonderful about it?
To give you an idea, DUREL 3 emits a light not unlike Indiglo in quality.
Well, it is an efficient light source that does not produce heat, can be bent and takes almost arbitrary shapes.
It is very useful for applications where there is little space available, such as backlighting PDAs, watches, and instrument panels on cars.
What isn't so wonderful about it? First of all, the power requirements are a bit bizarre: to make a piece of DUREL 3 glow, you need to feed it 40 - 100 V of AC, at between 20 and 500 Hz (becoming more efficient with higher frequencies, I think).
This more or less guarantees that for any application you will need to install an inverter or a transformer (automotive is 12 or 24 V of DC, household is 110 or 220 V of AC, but the frequency is 50 Hz.
Duration isn't so great either: light emission is halved after on the order of one thousand hours, depending on environment conditions (high humidity greatly reduces product life). LEDs, for example, beat this hands down.
Power drain is on the order of 0.1 mA/m2.
Electroluminescent technology is not particularly new, Durel's added value is that they use 3M technology to microincapsulate the phosphors in water-resistent material.
Formerly EL materials needed to be packaged into a thicker and less flexible sandwich, reducing in turn their applicability.
Durel also sells the driver ICs, small electronic components that generate the AC specified above. They also generate a high-pitched keening that Durel takes great pains to minimize.
Interestingly, Durel is currently in the middle of a patent squabble with Osram Sylvania about the coated phosphor technology.