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UC Engineers Invent Color-Changing Skin

Engineers at the University of California at Berkeley in Berkeley, California have developed super-thin, synthetic color-changing skin. It reportedly can give any surface the color-changing capabilities of a chameleon.

engineerscreAccording to a report on the subject just published in the journal Optica, the color-changing skin is a film of silicon that is “one-thousandth the width of a human hair” that is capable of changing colors on demand. It could someday be used as a part of defect-detecting sensor or display system in things such as aircraft, bridges and/or buildings.

Connie J. Chang-Hasnain, chair of the university’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Graduate Group stated: “This is the first time anybody has made a flexible chameleon-like skin that can change color simply by flexing it.” The color-changing film is said to utilize a new approach to color-changing that is based on changing the surface structure in order to reflect numerous visible wavelengths instead of actual alterations to the chemical make-up that gives dyes and paints their various colors.

The color-changing film is composed of “a semiconducting silicon 120 nanometers thick.” At present, it has only been made and displayed as “a 1-cenimeter-square layer.”

Miniscule ridge-like features thinner than one wavelength of light are reportedly cut into the thin silicon color-changing material. Each is meant to reflect a specific wavelength and corresponding color. Thus the color the material reflects can thus be altered simply by bending or flexing the surface.

Chang-Hasnain reported in a release: “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 concluded: “The next step is to make this larger-scale and there are facilities already that could do so. “At that point, we hope to be able to find applications in entertainment, security and monitoring.”

UC Engineers Invent Color-Changing Skin

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.