Scientists are always looking towards nature for inspiration to create new kinds of technology. The technologies made through the combination of human technology and natural design are often quite elegant in their workings.
One example of this natural elegance are marine animals such as squid, cuttlefish, and octopus which can create incredible patterns of colors on their skin. They do this by selectively contracting individual muscles to activate pigment-containing cells below their skin.
Now scientists at the University of Connecticut have found a way to replicate this special quality by creating materials that can change their color and transparency in response to mechanical force.
Known as Mechanocromics, these materials change the way they reflect or absorb light in relation to mechanical action. This occurs because of the interruption of intermolecular interactions.
So far the researchers have created only four different types of mechanochromic devices.
The first type is able to instantly switch between transparent and opaque states when stretched and released.
The second type is able to emit intensive fluorescence when stretched.
The third type changes from green, to yellow, then to orange as progressive levels of force are applied.
The fourth type can reversibly reveal and conceal any embedded pattern or text when stressed.
As one can expect, these type of materials can offer a wide variety of uses in all sorts of fields. If nothing else, they’ll atleast help create very cool tshirts.
The scientists are currently working of discovering additional properties of these materials and what they can be used for. Once that’s done, we would be able to see just how far this new technology can stretch.