Part of the show Naked Science Question and Answer
Japanese manufacturer Yamaha have come up with a way to make their motorcycles safer and easier for other road users to see - by developing a new a glow in the dark film. The phosphorescent polymer soaks up UV rays from sunlight like an energy sponge. When the UV interacts with chemicals in the material it temporarily catapults electrons to a higher energy state. When it gets dark the electrons slowly drop back down to their former unexcited state, releasing the energy they had locked away in the form a soft glow. Yamaha have come up with a vacuum process that can apply an even layer of the phosphorescent material over irregularly shaped farings, engine covers or cowlings. They plan to wheel out the technology in May (2006) initially on their EC-02 electric scooter; but above all they hope that their new range of "glow-tor" bikes will make the roads a safer place for riders.