A wearable device that allows the user to completely fade from sight is the dream of naughty children and the national military alike, but no practical alternative has yet been revealed.
A Canadian company came close in 2010 when a shield was created that didn’t show anything behind it, but true invisibility is a completely different ball game. From sci-fi suits to wizarding Worlds, the veil of invisibility has appeared in folk tales for decades in folk tales and captured the imagination of everyone who came across them.
Inspired by cephalopods like octopuses and squid, the material is controlled by heat to change the color of any surface like skin, anything behind it can bind. They published their creations in the Journal of Advanced Functional Materials in July. In the wake of the challenge, a team of researchers from Seoul National University and Hanyang University have created an artificial skin that makes the wearer virtually invisible from the visible to the infrared spectrum.
State the authors in the paper, “A multi-spectral impermeable skin that enables human skin to actively blend into the background in both IR-visible integrated spectra Improved only by temperature control with a flexible bi-functional device (active cooling and heating), In this study.”
The material will not stop to make you invisible to the naked eye, impressively. By strictly controlling the surface temperature it makes the user invisible to the infrared camera. With such material preferred by military personnel for covert operations, the authors expect the work to “contribute to the development of the next generation of soft covert military clothing.”
The material is an advancement of thermochromic materials, which has already seen a lot of mainstream use. If you have ever bought a mug that is added to a hot drink, you have noticed that a thermochromic material has changed color. In short, these elements change color in response to high or low temperatures. If scientists could create an element of three colors (red, green, and blue) in response to three temperatures, theoretically the element would work the same way on a TV, creating an image with RGB pixels. Unfortunately, current thermochromic components are suffering from a fatal error that prevents use in invisible devices – they change color very slowly.
The researchers wanted to see if an electric current in a layer just below the thermochromic material could speed up the color-changing process. The researchers saw a much faster response to color change, after creating a multi-layer material with an electronic and a conductive layer. Similar to how an octopus can change its skin to match its surroundings, artificial skin can change color based on temperature manipulation.
The researchers hope the work can be made in search of complete invisibility, now. This study serves as a proof of concept and still requires significant refinement to be practical in real-world applications, but it does present a significant leap in wearable invisibility materials.