Thursday, December 15, 2011

New material could create technicolour dreamcoat


if you've ever dreamed of having a technicolour dreamcoat, a new colour-changing material could make it possible. Developed by David Snoswell at Cambridge University and his team, the polymer changes colour with viewing angle or when stretched. In this video, you can see it take on various metallic hues or watch embedded patterns appear in contrasting colours. When light is shined through a superthin sample, bending the material causes it to change hue.
The polymer contains an arrangement of tiny spheres that mimic a crystal structure, causing colour changes due to diffraction. The effect produced by changing vantage point is controlled by spacing in the lattice and the size of the tiny balls. But colour variations due to stretching, where hues are shifted towards the blue end of the spectrum, are caused by reducing the distance between spheres.
According to Dermot Leonard, a member of the team seeking out commercial applications, it's the first material of this type where dyes can be added to complement the colours produced. The team is receiving a lot of interest from fashion designers looking for smart textiles but the material also has many other potential uses, such as for anti-counterfeiting systems.
If you enjoyed this video, check out a slippery material inspired by a carnivorous plant or watch a squishy metal bend like rubber.

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