Sunday, August 16, 2015

Chameleon Clothes

Just recently, nanoscientist Debashis Chanda developed a new technique that is the world’s first full-color, flexible thin-film reflective display. Furthermore, these etched displays can be embedded onto a variety of surfaces including fabrics.

As with many brilliant inventions, Chanda’s research utilized biomimicry techniques. Specially, his peculiar questions were often inspired by local nature. Animals such as chameleons, octopuses, and squids are born with simplistic structures that allow flexibility and color-adaptivity. What exactly powers these animal aesthetics, however? External aesthetics such as color adaptivity for chameleons and squids aren’t powered by any light source. It is their skin that controls this alternating behaviour. Alternative skin displays on animals such as the octopus are what has inspired Chanda’s research on creating a skin-like display.

Chanda’s new technique is able to change different colors on an ultrathin nanostructured surface through light refraction. Rather than needing a light source, the nanostructured surface reflects the ambient light around it. The nanostructured surface is composed of a fine liquid crystal layer placed over a metallic nanosubstrate. The physical shape can actually be compared to a microscopic egg carton. The following surface can absorb and reflect different light wavelengths depending on the frequency and the period. In order to generate the color adaptive display, liquid crystal molecules and metallic plasmon waves must interact. This interaction converts the adaptive surface from a polarization-dependent state to a polarization-independent state.

The application of this technique can potentially make a big impact on a variety of categories that won’t solely be focused on fabric implementation. The potential for this technique can be placed on a wide spectrum that can and will entertain many people across the globe.

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