With fluorescents and LEDs making major headway in the market, energy efficient alternatives to the incandescent bulb are becoming big business. That having been said, the next big thing could be coming out of a partnership between Saazs and Saint-Gobain Innovations in the form of Planilum—the "world's first light emitting glass." Planilum is only 0.8-inches thick and is composed of four layers of special glass, a rare gas and serigraphed phosphors—which will give you 500,000 hours or around 20 years of normal usage.
Because of their soft glow, Planilum lights only get about as hot as the human body, which means that there is no need for a shade or diffuser. They are also about 90% recyclable because the design is nearly all glass. For these reasons, the Planilum can be integrated into designs that make a break from traditional lighting fixtures. In fact, the plan is to develop furniture and other household objects with these panels to make more functional and attractive lighting solutions. With any luck, we could see products based on this technology sometime within the next few years. [saazs via Inhabitat via OhGizmo]