Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have created a super thin material that can be made to change color on demand when a minute amount of force is applied.
“This is the first time anybody has made a flexible chameleon-like skin that can change color simply by flexing it,” said Connie J Chang-Hasnain, member of the Berkeley team and co-author of the paper published on Friday in Optica, the Optical Society’s (OSA) new journal.
The hues that are typically seen in fabrics, paints, and other natural substances, occur when the unique chemical composition of each surface absorbs or reflects various bands, or wavelengths, of light.
Engineers, inspired by the nature, have thus found a new approach to changing the color of a surface, without altering the chemical composition of a material.
“If you have a surface with very precise structures, spaced so they can interact with a specific wavelength of light, you can change its properties and how it interacts with light by changing its dimensions,” Chang-Hasnain explained.
The novel chameleon-like material has been created like an incredibly thin and perfectly flat “skin,” which is easy to manufacture with the preferred surface properties.
The “skin” offers fascinating possibilities for a completely new class of display technologies, color-shifting camouflage, and sensors that can detect indiscernible defects in buildings, bridges, and the wings of airplanes.
“The next step is to make this larger-scale and there are facilities already that could do so,” Chang-Hasnain stated, adding, “At that point, we hope to be able to find applications in entertainment, security, and monitoring.”
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