Researchers in North Royalton, Ohio, thought their light-emitting panels made of woven optical fibers would make good billboards, but the technology proved too expensive to replace neon. So Lumitex is now targeting other markets. Its first license is to a biomedical company, which uses the heatless fibers to make pads for treating jaundiced infants. Another use: LCD backlighting panels.

-- Leslie Brokaw