Chameleon inspires 'smart skin' that changes color in the sun

phys.org | 6/20/2018 | Staff
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A chameleon can alter the color of its skin so it either blends into the background to hide or stands out to defend its territory and attract a mate. The chameleon makes this trick look easy, using photonic crystals in its skin. Scientists, however, have struggled to make a photonic crystal "smart skin" that changes color in response to the environment, without also changing in size.

The journal ACS Nano is publishing research led by chemists at Emory University that found a solution to the problem. They developed a flexible smart skin that reacts to heat and sunlight while maintaining a near constant volume.

Chameleon - Change - Colors - Idea - Breakthrough

"Watching a chameleon change colors gave me the idea for the breakthrough," says first author Yixiao Dong, a Ph.D. candidate in Emory's Department of Chemistry. "We've developed a new concept for a color-changing smart skin, based on observations of how nature does it."

"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, " adds Khalid Salaita, senior author of the paper and an Emory professor of chemistry. "While our work is still in the fundamental stages, we've established the principles for a new approach to explore and build upon."

Co-authors - Paper - Alisina - Bazrafshan - Dale

Co-authors of the paper include Alisina Bazrafshan and Dale Combs (Emory Ph.D. students); Kimberly Clarke (an Emory post-doctoral fellow); and Anastassia Pokutta, Fatiesa Sulejmani and Wei Sun (from Georgia Tech's Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering).

Besides chameleons, many other creatures have evolved the ability to change color. The stripes on a neon tetra fish, for example, turn from deep indigo to blue-green when they swim into sunlight.

Coloration - Organisms - Pigments - Particles - Repeating

The coloration in these organisms is not based on pigments, but on tiny particles in a repeating pattern,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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