A chameleon can change its color for many reasons, including mating, to defend itself, or to blend in the background. The chameleon can do that thanks to photonic crystals in its skin. Now, the scientists invented a smart skin that mimics the chameleon and switches colors when exposed to the Sun.
Researchers from Emory University were behind this recent invention, and they published the results of their study in the ACS Nano journal. According to the paperwork, the scientists created a flexible ‘chameleon” smart skin that changes when exposed to heat and light.
“Watching a chameleon change colors gave me the idea for the breakthrough. We’ve developed a new concept for a color-changing smart skin, based on observations of how nature does it,” explained Yixiao Dong, a Ph.D. candidate at Emory University and the study’s lead author.
“Scientists in the field of photonic crystals have been working for a long time to try to create color-changing smart skins for a range of potential applications, such as camouflage, chemical sensing, and anti-counterfeiting tags,” also said Khalid Salaita from Emory University.
Scientists Invented a “Chameleon” Smart Skin That Switches Colors When Exposed To The Sun
While the chameleon is the first animal that we think about when comes to skin color changes, there are a lot of other creatures that possess the same ability. All these animals have in common is the fact that the color-changing skill is due to photonic crystals in their skins.
These photonic crystals are colorless, but the distance between them under specific conditions dictated by the respective animals allows particular wavelengths to pass through, causing the changes in color.
The first step that scientists took was to embed photonic crystals in hydrogels, but they noticed that the color of the “chameleon” smart skin was only modifying when the material was either expanded or contracted.
To come up with a smart skin that doesn’t modify its size while changing colors, scientists placed photonic crystals on a strain-accommodating matrix with magnets to switch between different patterns. The result was satisfactory, and the new research might be essential for future, advanced camouflage suits.