MIT Researchers Create Chameleon-Like Fabric That Changes Color When Stretched
By Nicole Rodrigues, 02 Aug 2022
The work heralds back to a previous discovery conducted by physicist Gabriel Lippman in the 1890s, who won a Nobel Prize for creating a method of color photography that never reached commercial success.
Lippmann created colored photographs by setting up a mirror behind a thin transparent material made up of light-sensitive grains, also known as an emulsion. He then shone a light onto the mirror, which reflected the light through the emulsion, and it resulted in a pattern of tiny mirrors.
The method took too long for it to be used in everyday life. However, scientist Benjamin Harvey Miller looked back to Lippmann’s study and realized that he could incorporate holographic material with the method to print color onto a fabric that changed under stress.
The result was a chameleon-like material that shifted hues as one stretched and pulled on it. The science behind this is that colors move through a spectrum of light when expanded. Red-shades shift into green and then into blues.
Lippmann’s initial study used glass slides to print the colors onto, but Miller figured that the same method could be used but on a photo-elastomer material instead. This particular fabric changes color according to the light shining on it.
The team has even been able to print different images on the fabric, such as a bouquet of flowers, strawberries, coins, and even a fingerprint, that can alter its colors when pulled.
The main purpose of this color-shifting fabric will be for medics to see if they have tied a bandage on properly, to monitor ulcers and lymphatic disorders, or even to replace mechanical sensors with something that doesn’t require electricity.
More related news