A Cement That Can Glow in Dark

The latest Glow in the Dark cement works on the principal of absorbing the sun’s energy during the day and glowing at night. Developed by Dr. José Carlos Rubio from Mexico’s Michoacan’s University of San Nicolas Hidalgo (MSNH), this cement has numerous interesting applications.

No electricity required to illuminate darker roads & pathways!


­The latest Glow in the Dark cement works on the principal of absorbing the sun’s energy during the day and glowing at night. Developed by Dr. José Carlos Rubio from Mexico’s Michoacan’s University of San Nicolas Hidalgo (MSNH), this cement has numerous interesting applications from walkways to highways where electricity is an issue.

Cement currently takes the form of dust that is added to water - in the case of non-hydraulic cement, this is calcium oxide, while in hydraulic cements, the “dust” is a mixture of silicates and oxides. During the chemical reaction, the mixture turns into a gel-like substance, and crystal flakes are formed as unwanted sub-products. Hoping to eliminate this problem, Mr Rubio started looking at the micro-structure of the cement. During the process, he invented an inorganic geopolymer material, which has an amorphous to semi-crystalline structure with photoluminiscent properties.

When the geopolymer is excited by UV light, it is able to emit, from the inner portion of its matrix, light which lasts around 12 hours. Depending on the photoluminiscent crystal used within the structure of the geopolymer, it is possible to adjust the colour of the emitted light. This glowing geopolymer can be used to manufacture photoluminiscent ceramic materials, mortar, concrete and composites.


A drawback of most glow-in-the-dark materials currently available in the market is that they are composed of plastics and have a short lifespan of around 3 years at most because they decay under exposure to UV light. José Rubio, the innovator behind the material however says that this new kind of cement can last up to 100 years since this geopolymer is highly resistant to UV light, allowing to last for a long time. It is also highly resistant to fire, electrically insulated, and has a high chemical resistance to a diverse number of compounds and organic solvents. Because the material has adhesive properties when it is manufactured, it can be used as a cement, and adhered to metallic, ceramic, glass and composite surfaces. It can be produced at room temperature or at temperatures lower than 300 degrees Celsius, substantially reducing the production costs. Structures which emit glow without requiring electricity may be useful in the signaling, traffic, electric, electro-mechanical, architectonic and decoration, construction, military, automotive, aeronautical, oil, and naval industries as well as alternative energy industries.

Source: www.materia.in, www.engineersaustralia.org.au

SURFACES TAKE: India is a developing country having severe electricity problems. Such materials are the need of the hour. They can be proved very beneficial for lighting areas deprived of electricity. ­ Therefore, as always stressed by us, material innovation is vital for the social development as well. Many experts have pointed out that our country lacks research which is why there is a dearth of new materials. Surfaces Reporter strongly feels that more focus must be laid upon doing material research so that such materials can be develop within the country curbing their cost and allowing more widespread usage.

The article was published in the June 2016 issue of SURFACES REPORTER

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