Electroluminescent Paint Job Makes This Custom Tesla Model S a One-Car Light Show

What happens if you cross the super-sexy Tesla Model S electric car with a futuristic paint that not only covers pretty much any surface but produces an eerie light when an electric current is passed through it?

A Tesla Model S which glows in the dark a little like a deep water Botrynema Jellyfish, of course.

If the Tesla Model S standard paint choices are too boring, why not try this?

If the Tesla Model S standard paint choices are too boring, why not try this?

While the nine paint options offered by Tesla for its iconic all-electric Model S sedan cater to most tastes, a company called Darkside Scientific has chosen to demonstrate the versatility of its electroluminescent Luminor paint technology by painting a Tesla Model S from frunk to trunk in its specialist paint. As our friends at Autobloggreen point out, the result is simply incredible.

Similar to the bioluminescent capabilities of certain organisms, the Luminor electroluminescent paint emits visible light when a current passes through it. Applied using a regular paint gun, the electroluminescent paint looks completely standard during daylight hours, but hidden electrodes beneath the paint finish allow the driver to pass an electrical current through the paintwork at night time, lighting up the car for all to see.

Like those enchanting, strange bioluminescent creatures of the deep, the paint can even glow in a strobing effect, thanks to a sectional layering of the paint and electrodes. The results are truly mesmerising. In the case of the Tesla Model S, stripes of paint work can be lit by an on-board computer in a dizzying number of ways, resulting in a car whose paintwork can dance and flash to music, movement or whatever other triggers you’d like to give it.

It’s a little like watching a one-car light show.

The science behind the technology is pretty simple. By applying an alternating current to the specially-designed paint, each individual atom inside the paint is excited, causing an electron circling the atom to jump to a higher energy level. In order to return back to its stable ground state, the electron has to release a photon. Or in layman’s terms, visible light.

Sadly, the paint does have a finite life, at least when it comes to its electroluminescence. Over time, the paint apparently slowly loses its ability to emit visible light, resulting in a gradual dimming of the electroluminescent effect with time. At the time of writing, it isn’t clear how quickly that degradation occurs, although Darkside Scientific says that degradation only occurs when the paint is being energised by an alternating current.

LumiLor Lit Car from Darkside Scientific on Vimeo.

The paint can be applied to a wide range of surfaces, from glass and plastic through to wood, vinyl and metal. At the moment, the firm will custom coat anything you want with the technology, but you can’t yet buy it for DIY application at home since the process of applying the Luminor paint requires you to have some basic understanding of how the different layers interact with one another in order to produce the desired light — not to mention understanding the electronics needed to give the paint its special glow.

While the possibilities are endless for this exciting technology however, the most likely applications lie in the motorcycle and automotive world, where electroluminescence could be used to make cars, motorcycles and motorcyclists more visible to other road users at night.

The ability to make your car the centre of your own private disco light display is of course, an added bonus feature.

Do you like the idea of glow-in-the-dark cars? Should Tesla offer this as a special custom paint job for customers who are willing to pay the extra money for a glowing Model S? And will this help our future transport become safer at night?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Matt Beard

    You could seriously freak other drivers by driving with the luminescence off, but every couple of minutes flash the pattern front to back as if the holo-image of the car was glitching!

  • Joe

    Matt, that’s hilarious!nnIn the ’90s there was a fad, at least here in Michigan, involving installing neon-like lights under a car. It created an interesting effect but was illegal because of some law regarding aftermarket vehicular lights. I wonder if this luminescent paint is illegal anywhere.

  • Timothy Gray

    The stuff lasts less than 100 hours. It drops by 50% brightness rapidly and then slows down, but the new brightness is gone in a short time. It’s the same tech as EL rope and that stuff lasts 50-100 hours before it’s so dim you can only see it in total darkness.