Electro Luminescent Fun With Jeri Ellsworth


[Jeri] got her hands on some of the DuPont Luxprint EL ink and had some fun conducting experiments. She tried different materials for the base and the display itself.  Not only does she just play with materials, she also tears apart a VFD and an LCD to see if she could use them for parts. The LCD turned out to be the most successful. We saw this stuff show up at the Bay Area Maker Faire and we’re excited to see it become more accessible.

[via Makezine]

25 thoughts on “Electro Luminescent Fun With Jeri Ellsworth

  1. So no video of it glowing? only a “look at what I painted it on”?

    I’d love to see a lights off comparison of the different examples lit up.

    EL ink/paint has som real money potential in light up pinstriping on cars… The ricer kids would kill for that .

  2. Anybody happen to know how to clean stuff like liquid crystals to get at the ITO glass? I mean how sturdy is that ITO material and if I rub it with alcohol for instance without affecting the layering you want to keep?
    BTW if you google ITO you get a lot of japanese babes called Ito I found, you need to search using the full name Indium tin oxide.

  3. I’m more interested in the blue/green dot on the left side of the video. If you put your mouse cursor on it during playback, you’ll notice that its movement appears to be representative of the x- and y-axis acceleration of the camera during filming.

  4. It is cool and all but I think it is a bit premature isn’t it? Some of the Proof Of Concept stuff is interesting but not all IMHO. And No, I do not have to post some of my VFD and LCD POC stuff or failures (depending on point of view) to post a comment. Some like to see the videos when the project is a bit more mature, it is just a preference and no offense to someone’s hard work, no need to get all passive-aggressive. :)

  5. Jeri,

    Could you give us more information on your turntable-to-CD player hack pictured on the background of your YouTube site?? I know it’s off topic here but my own attempts have not gone well, and I’ve ruined my entire Coheed and Cambria collection…

  6. Jeri-

    Have you experimented with sputtering at all? One of the side affects of the experiments I did with homebrew tubes can be seen on the tenth image down the page at:


    This was simply a glow tube– air at reduced pressure with two electrodes and a discharge between them. Over time, the impact of electrons eroded the copper tube and the freed material plated itself on the interior of the glass.

    This coating, while dark brown in the photo, was actually quite transparent, yet, if you touched the probes of a DMM to the glass, it readily conducted electricity. Cool stuff.

    If you were to fashion a mask with a desired pattern on it, place it in contact with your glass substrate, and then place it in an evacuated chamber with a glow discharge and suitable sacrificial electrodes (i’d start with copper), you might be able to make a “contact print” of your desired electrode pattern. Follow up with the EL paint, and make custom displays.

    Personally, I have considered revisiting the sputtering idea for the purpose of laying patterns of lead on to glass. The idea is to then react the metal layer with sulfur fumes to create a lead-sulfide semiconductor. A primitive FET or a thermistor would be possible end-products.

    Speaking of copper films, if you thumb through the photo set on my site, you can see examples of some cuprous oxide transistors I tinkered with. A sputtered layer of copper, properly oxidized, might also form the basis for a primitive FET.

    I can be reached through my website if you need details of my equipment.


  7. Pete – I have some pretty nice vacuum equipment I’ve gathered over the years, but I’m missing a few fittings to make a complete vacuum chamber.

    I’ve noticed the tungsten coated on the surface interior surface of dead light bulbs are somewhat conductive.

    I’m very interested in non-silicon transistors also. I have a book that was published in the 60’s that documents many experimental devices including CdS and Zn based FETs. It seems silicon had some competition back then.


    I’ll check out your website.

  8. interesting idea to use a broken LCD panel..

    what about using isopropanol to clean off the liquid crystals?
    normally ITO is pretty tough and to make conductive circuits you need to mechanically abrade it.

  9. @jeri ellsworth, i tried this myself and removing the lcd material just needs a simple dry tissue, and then IPA to shift what remains.
    you can use a fair amount of pressure as the ITO is pretty robust.

  10. Hi Jeri. I’m a knitter and have been avidly following developments of EL ink and specifically EL yarn that has been patented and in proof-of-concept development at UManchester in UK. I want to figure out how to make EL yarn. Any thoughts on overdying yarn or somehow saturating it with the EL ink?

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