US 2644113 A
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June 30, 1953 w. v. E'rzKoRN LUMINOUS BODY l Filed May22, 1950 ,Z lili q if@ L IN VEN TOR. Wa/er 1/. Ez kof/7 A TTOIQNEY Patented June 30, 1953 UNITED STATES PATENT oFFlcEf LUMINoUs BODY y Walter v. Etzkarn, oakland, Calif.` Application May 22, 1950, sarlalNa. 163,381
l f The present invention relates to luminous bodies, particularly intended to serve the purposes for which neon tubes or fluorescent tubes are generally employed at the present time and the principal object of the invention is to provide a luminous body of the character described that may be readily bent to form various shapes, such as letters and other characters in advertising display and other uses.
More particularly, it is proposed to provide, in one form of the invention, a tube or similar elongated structure made of plastic or any other suitable llexible and light transmitting material, and to arrange within said tubes or structures spaced sources of light disposed in such a man- 'ner that they do not interfere with the bending or cutting of the tube or structure into desired shapes, the sources of light being in the form vof ampoules or cavities or pockets containing luminous gas adapted to be rendered active for illumination by radio-frequency waves or similar agents. y
It is proposed to provide these luminous ilexible tubes in such a manner that they may be Amarketed in long units adapted for rolling on large spools to be cut into desired lengths bythe user or the retail merchant;
It is further proposed, in the present invention, to incorporate in such tubes or structures, a certain amount of fluorescent material, which may be applied in the form of a coating to the 'inside or the outside of the tube or other structure or may be embedded in the material thereof,
4and which will be excited to glow by ultra-violet rays emitted from the luminous gas in the ampoules, cavities or pockets, hereinafter designated by the general term of cells carried bythe tube or other structure.
Flexible plastics have now been developed which will hold high vacuum. Since the pres- "sure in the luminous tube is in the nature of '7 alphabet or other characters.
The body may be used as a source of light also.
s claims. (ol. 315-228) colors, is lire-resistant and shock-proof.
excit the phosphors.
The luminous body of the present invention has the further advantages that it is easy to manufacture, quite permanent, very flexible, has a relatively high elilciency, long life (possibly over twenty years) ,"a large number of available The plastic body is resistant to weathering and corrosive atmospheres, shatter resistant, vlight weight, easy to handle, easy to cut and drill, and has excellent light transmission characteristics'. s
Further objects and advantages of my invention'will appear as thefspecilication proceeds, and the novel features of`v my invention will be fully dened in the claims attached hereto.
The prefered forms of my invention are illustrated in the accompanying drawing, in which Figure 1 shows the general idea of the invention in connection with a flexible luminous tube,
Figures 2 to 8 inclusive, various forms of my -luminous body,
Figures 9 and 10, side and end views of a tube having -gas containing cavities instead of ampoules, and
Figure 11,` a method of forming a luminous -flexible bar in accordance with my invention, Figure 12, a method of evacuating and filling and sealing off long cavities in a plastic body.
While I have shown only the preferred forms -of my'invention, I Wish to have it understood that various changes Iand modifications may be made Within the scope of the claims attached Iheretolwithout departing from the spirit of the ,'invention.
The basic device, see Figure 1, consists of the flexible plastic body I (we shall rst consider the hollow tube) the phosphor coating 2 on the inside of the tube, and the'ultra violet radiating ampoules or hollow beads 3 within the tube. These ampoules or hollow beads are pumped out and filled to the requiredppressure with luminous .gasessimilar to the commercial fluorescent neon tubes. These ampoules or hollow beads or long slender capillaries are made of a material that will transmit suflicient ultra violet radiation to A radio frequency generator 4 is employed to energize the ampoules which supply the ultra violet radiation that activates the phosphors, giving off light from the inside of the'flexible plastic tube. Y
The term tube should be construed to mean plastic bar, strip, pipe, and similar forms.
The llexible plastic tube or body can take any one of many basic cross-sectional shapes: cir- 'cularyrectangularg' triangular, and many more complex shapes, even including certain lens-like surfaces. These can be easily formed or extruded. These flexible shapes can be either solid or hollow.
The phosphors can be placed on the inside surface of the hollow tubes. The phosphors may be imbedded in the plastics themselves, or the phosphor may be placed between two layers or walls of plastic, or coated on the outside wall. It is known to anyone in the lamp manufacturers art that the thicknesses and constituents of a phosphor coating are quite critical, especially where efficiency is a prime factor. Many of the phosphors now available on the open market are quite stable in air. In or on these flexible tubes these phosphors are not likely to become contaminated with chemicals harmful to their efficiency, such as iron, etc. These phosphors are plentiful and relatively cheap.
The ampoules or hollow glass beads will be made of quartz, quartz glass, or Corex, or other glass, or any other material which will transmit a relatively large amount of ultra violet light or near ultra violet light. Ampoules or hollow glass beads may be made to emit colored light from the visible portion of the spectrum. This can be accomplished by using a luminescent gas that willemit a colored light. These gases are quite common in the neon industry. It may be desirable to coat the inside walls of the ampoules or beads so they become small fluorescent lights in themselves. It is seen that the ampoules or beads may be used in three different ways in conjunction with the plastic tube or strip; namely, as a device to radiate ultra violet light onto a phosphor external to the ampoule itself; to give off colored light into the flexible plastic tube; or thirdly to act as a small fluorescent light source in itself and thus illuminate the plastic tube.
The ampoules may take many different shapes: a bullet, a tear drop, a spherical or nearly spherical bead, as at 5, or even the form of long slender capillary tubes even down to the small dimensions of the glass fibres in glass wool.
The ampoules may be inserted into a plastic tube, laid in a plastic trough, inserted in little pockets in a plastic body, used externally on the tube, or imbedded in the solid flexible tube.
The ampoules may be evenly spaced, staggered, over-lapped, concentric or eccentric with the tube, each arrangement giving a different effect, as illustrated in Figures 2 4.
The radio frequency generator may take many different forms. The Federal Communications Commission has set up several radio frequency bands for these non-communication uses (i. e. industrial high frequency induction heating, diathermy, induction cooking, etc). New tentative bands are now set up with certain allowable ultra high frequency bands even up to 2450 megacycles. The Federal Communications Commission has so oriented these frequencies that cer tain common harmonics fall into the adjacent bands which are used for these non-communication uses. The antenna 6 and the ground 1 of the radio frequency generator are shown as disposed along opposite sides of the tube.
There are a large number of antennae arrangements whereby satisfactory field patterns can be made and the gas filled ampoules will glow quite satisfactorily within these fields. It should be remembered that the higher the frequency the greater the efliciency of the ampoule, but high frequency current transmission becomes quite difficult. The optimum working frequency for the first units will probably be chosen around twentysix point eight megacycles. It must be borne in mind that high strength field gradients may be created in two ways; rst, by radiating considerable electro-magnetic power (or antennae current) wherein the waves travel out into the ether; or secondly, where the field is created between two conductors whose physical spacing is a small part of the electro-magnetic wave length. The first condition mentioned is known as a radiating source, and the'second condition mentioned is known as a non-radiating source, inasmuch as almost all of the power is conducted or transmitted by the two conductors in question, and a negligible amount is radiated out into the ether. The Federal Communications Commission has certain fixed requirements for non-radiating sources which may be operated on any frequency as long as they do not interfere with communications.
The input power to the oscillator unit for a sign board approximately 48 x 48", incorporating the flexible luminous tube, would be in the neighborhood of 200 watts or less. The input power for the working model now at hand is approximately 57 volt amperes.
The working model now at hand used 1/2 O. D, Tygon flexible plastic tubing, commercial phosv phor in a powdered form rubbed into the inside walls of the plastic tubing, and quartz ampoules about fs O. D. x 11/4 long with a 7 mm. Helium- Argon-Mercury fill. The radio frequency wave gencratoris a commercial type.
Other intended variations to the above descriptions are as follows:
1. The plastic body may have an antennae radiating wire run through it or broken segments of wire moulded into it in order to better carry the radio frequencycurrent to the ampoules, as indicated at 8 in Figure 6.
2. The plastic body may have two conductors running through it in such manner that they come very close to the opposite sides of the ampoules, in order to create a maximum field gradient across the ampoule, as indicated in Figure 2. Y
3. The ampoules may actually have short segments of wire butted up against the ends of the ampoules. as at 9 in Figure 7.
4. Small electrodes may actually be placed in the ampoules to more effectively carry the radio frequency current to the luminous gas within the ampoule, as at Ill in Figure 8.
5. A high eld strength gradient may be created by placing a plate Vand a screen parallel to each other and a short distance apart wherein the spacing between the plate and screen is asmall part of the generated wave length. Said plate and screen are energized from the radio frequency oscillator. The flexible luminous tubing containing the ampoules may be placed between the plate and the screen. This arrangement provides a very high field gradient for the flexible luminous tube. The screen may 'take the form of very fine wire or various forms of current conducting glass, etc.
6. Small or medium sized cavities may well be created directly within the plastic tube itself, as at Il in Figures 9 and l0. These may be filled with the correct gas mixture at the proper pressure. This may be accomplished by assembling component parts of the tube in a controlled atmosphere of the proper gas at the correct pressure.
'7. Anothermanner in which small cavities may be created in -a flexible strip `is to sandwich a perforated flexible strip I2 between two solid flexible strips I3 with thefproper flexible cement all in a controlled atmosphere of the desired luminous gas at the desired pressure, as shown in Figure 1l.
8. Cavities or compartments i4 can be sealed off in the plastic tube or bar which will act as ampoules. Various techniques arepossible for evacuating and filling these cavities with the' proper gas mixtures and at the proper pressure, as shown in Figure 12.
9. The luminous gases in the ampoules, beads, and/ or cavities maybe excited by an electrostatic potential gradient or by a low frequency electromagnetic wave instead of the radio waves of L. F. (low frequency), H. F. (high frequency), V. H. F. (very high frequency), or by U. H. F. (ultra high frequency). v
In addition to the luminous bodies described on page 1 wherein mention is made of luminous bodies that may be readily bent to form various shapes and other flexible and rigid structures mentioned on both pages 1 and 2, my invention also takes the following forms:
A block or panel light source which can take the form of an acoustical or insulating block or a decorative panel comprised of a large number of capillary tubes held together by a suitable plastic or other type of binder or transparent container. These capillary tubes, filled with a luminous gas to the desired pressure, may transmit only visible light, if desired; o-r may generate the required ultra violet light to excite the phosphors which are either intermingled with the capillaries, or mixed into the binder, or placed in or on the walls of the container.
This assembly of gas filled capillaries, plastic binder, fluorescent material, etc., is all placed within a steep high frequency radio field voltage gradient. As described in other parts of this writing, the high frequency voltage gradient causes the luminous gas .to glow andy give off ultra violet light which Will pass through the Walls of the quartz or Corex glass of the capillaries. The ultra violet radiation excites the phosphors with which it comes in contact. The phosphors then give ofi" or radiate the desired light. Other erythematic and bactericidal effects 'are anticipated at this time.
These blocks or decorative panels supply the long awaited architectural element which sup-k plies the heretofore unobtainable; a combination of a wall surface material, decorative panel, acoustical material, an insulating material, Kand highly desirable source of illumination. Low surface brightness in lighting sources has been a requirement of architects and engineers for many years. This system provides this desirable, low brightness source of light.
The recent developments of high frequency radio techniques, plastics, :and phosphors, and fluorescent paints has made these new surface and solid sources of light possible.
My invention also takes the additional forms:
A new type of painter liquid plastic which performs in the previously described manner.
The capillaries, which are filled with a luminous gas, and are of the same general nature as the capillaries heretofore mentioned, are made very short. These very short and small capillaries (or beads or ampoules) are thoroughly mixed-in or unified with a transparent or semitransparent liquid plastic, lacquer, or suitable paint vehicle. A proper amount of fluorescent material, or fluorescent dye, or fluorescent pigment is added to the mixture. This plastic or paint may be brushed, sprayed, rolled, or smeared onto the desired surface.
When the steep high frequency radio eld gradient excites the luminous gases within the small capillaries, the ultra violet light generated excites the fluorescent material affecting luminous paint. This luminous paint is not dependent on solar radiation, inasmuch as it contains its own source of ultra violet radiation.
Fluorescent paints are already available on the open market at reasonable prices in adequate quantities which contain desirable fluorescent materials for this type of use. These paints require an exciting agent, however, before they can go in general use indoors and at night. My invention supplies this desired excitation and opens a complete Anew field of use for the existing fluorescent paints.
l. An elongated plastic tube of light transmitting material having separated and unconnected volumes of luminous gas confined therein and high-frequency electrical means for illuminating the gas, the tube being flexible and bendable throughout the length thereof to form desired designs and being of uniform transmittance throughout the length thereof.
2. An elongated plastic tube of light transmitting material having separated and unconnected volumes of luminous gas confined therein and high-frequency electrical means for illuminating the gas, the tube being flexible and bendable throughout the length thereof to form desired designs and being of uniform transmittance throughout the length thereof and the conning means for the gas volumes being of uniform transmittance throughout and unobstructed to permit of shedding of light from each volume of gas in all directions.
3. An elongated plastic tube of light transmitting material having separated and unconnected volumes of luminous gas confined therein, and high-frequency electrical means for illuminating the gas, the tube being exible and bendable throughout the length thereof to form desired designs and being of uniform transmittance throughout the length thereof, and the tube material being sufciently pliable for cutting at any point along the length thereof by means of a pair of scissors or thelike to provide smaller units of desired lengths, the separation between the volumes of gas allowing any one of said volumes to be cut without affecting the other volumes.
4. An elongated plastic tube of light transmitting material having separated and unconnected volumes of luminous gas confined therein, and high-frequency electrical means for illuminating the gas, the tube being flexible and bendable thoughout the length thereof to form desired designs and being of uniform transmittance throughout the length thereof, and the tube having two thin flexible wires mounted therein on opposite sides of the volumes of gas to serve as antennae for the high-frequency means.
5. A translucent plastic body having a large number of small separated and unconnected volumes of luminous gas confined therein, and highfrequency electrical means for illuminating the gas, said `body being sufficiently plastic to allow for cutting and sawing into desired shapes and the volumes of gas being so disconnected that only the volumes cut through are affected by the cutting.
6. A luminous body having separated and un` connected volumes of luminous gas confined therein in `spaced relation, the spaced relation being such that the emission from the separated volumes overlaps, one to another, and creates a substantially uniform intensity in close proximity to `the separated and unconnected volumes, and having means inside the body and external to the volumes for radiating high-frequency Waves to render the volumes luminous, said radiating means being arranged in such a manner as to result in non-interference with the overlapping emission of `the spaced volumes.
7. An elongated plastic tube of light transmit" ting material having separated and unconnected volumes of luminous gas conned therein adapted for illuminating by high-frequenc3f means, the tube being iiexible and bendable throughout the length thereof to form desired designs and being of uniform transmittance throughout the length thereof.
8 8. An elongated plastic tube of light transmitting material having separated and unconnected volumes of luminous gas confined therein adapted for illuminating by high-frequency means, thl tube being exible and bendable throughout the length thereof to form desired designs and being of uniform transmittance throughout the length thereof, and the tube having two thin 'exible Wires mounted therein on opposite sides of the volumes of gas to serve as antennae for the highfrequency means.
WALTER V. ETZKORN.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Number Name Date 1,550,197 Berry Aug. 18, 1925 1,839,479 Hartman Jan. 5, 1932 2,064,354 Prouty Dec. 15, 1936 2,117,544 Coustal May 17, 1938 2,216,220 Baker Oct. l, 1.9/10 2,525,624 Stahl Oct. 10, 1950