Diaper rash cream? Brilliant white light? What? Strangely enough, scientists with Duke University and the US Army have discovered that a cheap diaper rash and sunburn cream produces a brilliant white light when heated.

"Duke adjunct physics professor Henry Everitt, chemistry professor Jie Liu and their graduate student John Foreman have discovered that adding sulfur to ultra-fine powders of commonplace zinc oxide at about 1,000 degrees centigrade allows the preparation to convert invisible ultraviolet light into a remarkably bright and natural form of white light."

The scientists are currently probing the potential of their concoction to develop a new solid-state lighting solution that beats the pants off of current fluorescents. Naturally, the military has expressed interest in the technology—going so far as to fast track funding for the project in hopes that they can deliver soldiers a new rugged and energy efficient light source. Unlike LEDs, this light is ideal for reading because its white light suits the human eye best.

Naturally, there are still hurdles to overcome, but tests have been promising. So far, they have been able to achieve efficiencies as high as 80 percent. [Science Daily]