Engineers at the University of California-Irvine have created a material that they say could provide better camouflage for military personnel and vehicles at night. They did it with the help of the longfin squid, which contains in its skin a protein that lets them change their color and texture so that they are harder to see in infrared light. Combining this protein with graphene results in a coating that can be activated under certain biological or chemical conditions. A paper describing the research appeared in an issue of Advanced Materials.
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What’s the Big Idea?
Infrared light as used in cameras and night vision goggles makes it easier to see people and objects in the dark, especially since its reflective properties are different for fabrics and materials. Tests done with an orange surface coated with the material showed that it blended into green foliage when the coating was activated. UC-Irvine professor Alon Gorodestsky says the eventual goal “is to create fabrics that can dynamically alter their texture and colour to adapt to their environments. Basically, we’re seeking to make shape-shifting clothing…a reality.”