What is EL Wire?
EL (Electroluminescent) wire was invented by Frenchman Georges Destriau in 1936. Despite having been around for almost 80 years, the versatility and flexibility of modern EL wire continues to inspire designers, artists and craftsmen from all industries, who push the limits of the uses of EL wire and continue to create innovative products with this unique material.
EL wire consists of a solid copper core coated with an even layer of phosphor lubricant. Next, two extremely thin copper wires are wound in a spiral formation around the phosphor layer, and the entire unit is wrapped in two flexible plastic sheaths. The inner sheath provides waterproofing, flexibility and strength, while the outer sheath provides the colour.
Early versions of EL wire were sheathed in glass or ceramic, both of which are easily breakable and not at all pliable.The development of flexible plastics mean that EL wire can be shaped, bent and tied into knots, and greatly increases the many ways it can be used. EL wire’s PVC sheath is also what gives it colour – the colour of the sheath gives EL wire its characteristic glowing shades.
What Makes EL Wire Glow?
Phosphor is a solid material which emits light when exposed to an energy source – in this case, a flow of electricity conducted by the copper core and wires.
EL wire is powered by alternating current. When electricity is applied to an electroluminescent wire, the electrons in the phosphor coating are agitated. When the current is interrupted, the electrons return to their previous activity levels. This constant charging and discharging is what causes energy to be emitted in the form of light.