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  • Lighting the Fabric of Our Lives
Mar 2010
EINDHOVEN, Netherlands, March 16, 2010 — Imagine children's jackets that can light up to see them safely home from school in the dark, curtains that can emit light to mimic natural daylight conditions, or bandages that shine light on the body to treat skin diseases. These are just some of the products that could become reality under the Platform for Large Area Conformable Electronics by Integration (PLACE-it) initiative.

The Holst Centre, a partner in the PLACE-it initiative, develops flexible OLED on transparent substrates. (Photos: Philips)

PLACE-it aims to integrate lighting into people's daily surroundings by making it bendable and stretchable — not flat, square and fragile. The aim is to combine technical performance with elasticity, comfort and light in light-emitting flexible surfaces and textiles. Collaborating on the project are leading companies and institutes in lighting and flexible electronics: Centexbel, Freudenberg Forschungsdienste KG, Freudenberg NOK Mechatronics, Freudenberg Mektec Europe, Grupo Antolin, imec's associated laboratory at Ghent University, Philips Research, Philips Lighting, Philips Lumalive, Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (Holst Centre/TNO), Ohmatex, RWTH Aachen University, the Berlin Institute of Technology, TITV Greiz – The Institute for Special textiles and Flexible Materials, and the University of Heidelberg. The consortium held its kickoff meeting in February.

Under PLACE-it, the companies and institutes will work together to integrate light into ceilings, walls, floors, furniture and even clothing. PLACE-it looks beyond the bulb for lighting applications, optimally exploiting the energy-efficient and small-form-factor characteristics of new lighting technologies like LEDs and OLEDs (organic LEDs). One such development might be a lamp that is not fixed to the ceiling, but can instead be designed in any shape, or even blended into the surroundings.

Philips explores opportunities to integrate light therapy into a baby's blanket.

“Until now, large-area electronics R&D has been carried out independently for flexible, elastic and fabric-based technologies,” said Liesbeth van Pieterson, senior scientist at Philips Research and project leader of PLACE-it. “In the PLACE-it project, foil, elastic and fabric substrate technologies will be systematically co-developed with the common goal of heterogeneous integration.”

PLACE-it received €10.9 million (about $15 million) in funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme. The project aims to realize an industrial platform for lightweight, thin and flexible optoelectronics systems within three and a half years and will:
  • Develop an integration platform of foil, elastic and fabric optoelectronic technologies;
  • Create foil, elastic and fabric-based devices for light emission, electronics and sensing;
  • Formulate industry design guidelines for light-emitting flexible surfaces and textiles;
  • Build demonstrators of compelling beyond-the-bulb applications.
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That branch of science involved in the study and utilization of the motion, emissions and behaviors of currents of electrical energy flowing through gases, vacuums, semiconductors and conductors, not to be confused with electrics, which deals primarily with the conduction of large currents of electricity through metals.
Electromagnetic radiation detectable by the eye, ranging in wavelength from about 400 to 750 nm. In photonic applications light can be considered to cover the nonvisible portion of the spectrum which includes the ultraviolet and the infrared.
A sub-field of photonics that pertains to an electronic device that responds to optical power, emits or modifies optical radiation, or utilizes optical radiation for its internal operation. Any device that functions as an electrical-to-optical or optical-to-electrical transducer. Electro-optic often is used erroneously as a synonym.
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