My watch list
my.chemeurope.com  
Login  

Printable, colorful camouflage with polymers

13-Feb-2018

American Chemical Society

Newly developed polymer can better mimic nature's color-changing abilities.

In nature, colors can serve as a form of communication, but they can also hide animals and plants, camouflaging them from sight. Researchers now report that they have developed polymers that can better mimic nature's color-changing abilities than existing polymers. They say the materials could enable smart decorations, camouflage textiles and improved anti-counterfeiting measures.

Most of the colors that people are familiar with, such as hues on a piece of paper, are made with pigments. But another type, called structural color, exists, in which the color is produced by periodically arranged microscopic structures that interfere with visible light. For example, peacock tail feathers are actually brown, but microscopic structures present in the feathers make them look blue and green to the naked eye. Scientists have used cholesteric liquid-crystalline (CLC) polymers to mimic the structural coloration found in nature because they can easily be made into responsive materials. But so far, researchers have only produced them in a limited range of colors. So Albertus P. H. J. Schenning and Monali Moirangthem wanted to make CLC polymers with the full visible spectrum of colors.

The team used inkjet printing technology and a calcium nitrate solution to print an image on a CLC polymer they developed. Printing successive layers changed the degree of swelling of the CLC polymer, changing the color. One layer resulted in an orange color, a second layer changed it to green, and a third layer made it blue. As an example, the researchers used the method to draw a blue flower with green leaves on a reddish-orange background. After the ink dried, the image was no longer visible--the entire surface appeared blue. However, sprinkling water or breathing on it caused the full color image to re-appear.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • American Chemical Society
  • water
  • textiles
  • Technische Universi…
More about TU Eindhoven
More about American Chemical Society
  • News

    A chameleon-inspired smart skin changes color in the sun

    Some creatures, such as chameleons and neon tetra fish, can alter their colors to camouflage themselves, attract a mate or intimidate predators. Scientists have tried to replicate these abilities to make artificial "smart skins," but so far the materials haven't been robust. Now, researcher ... more

    Making polyurethane waste degradable gives its components a second life

    Polyurethane waste is piling up in landfills, but scientists have a possible solution: They have developed a method to make polyurethane degradable. Once the original product's useful life is over, the polymer can easily be dissolved into ingredients to make new products such as superglue. ... more

    Fungal compound deodorizes skunk smell

    Being sprayed by a skunk is no fun for people or their pets, and the strong, stinky secretions can serve as a nasty reminder of the wildlife encounter for days or weeks. Available "de-skunking" formulas often either don't work well or can irritate the skin and eyes. Now, researchers reporti ... more

  • Videos

    What Makes Rubber Rubbery?

    Reactions is looking at sports science today. Sports balls owe their reliability to an unusual polymer. Learn about the chemistry of rubber the all-star’s best friend! more

    Dragon's Blood Could Save Your Life

    This week Reactions is looking at chemistry in bizarre places that could save your life. The science within the blood of the Komodo dragon or in a horseshoe crab can help with antibiotic resistance. But it doesn't end there, so we're taking a closer look at other wild places in nature that ... more

    Why is Olive Oil Awesome?

    Whether you sop it up with bread or use it to boost your cooking, olive oil is awesome. But a lot of chemistry goes on in that bottle that can make or break a product. Take the “extra virgin” standard: Chemistry tells us that a higher free-fatty-acid content leads to a lower grade, less tas ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE