Scientists look to squid in developing coating to give invisibility

Sept. 10, 2013 at 3:50 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. engineers say they've looked to the common squid to develop a camouflage coating that can make objects -- or people -- invisible to infrared night scopes.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, in a study published in the journal Advanced Materials, report creating a biomimetic infrared camouflage coating inspired by Loliginidae, also known as pencil squids or your everyday calamari.

The team produced reflectin, a structural protein essential in the squid's ability to change color and reflect light, in common bacteria and used it to make thin, optically active films that mimic the skin of a squid.

The film's color and reflectance can shift, allowing it to disappear and reappear when visualized with an infrared camera, a university release reported Monday.

Military forces use infrared detection equipment extensively for night vision, navigation, surveillance and targeting.

"Our approach is simple and compatible with a wide array of surfaces, potentially allowing many simple objects to acquire camouflage capabilities," chemical engineering and materials science Professor Alon Gorodetsky said.

It's a step toward developing a material that will self-reconfigure in response to an external signal, he said.

"Our long-term goal is to create fabrics that can dynamically alter their texture and color to adapt to their environments," he said. "Basically, we're seeking to make shape-shifting clothing -- the stuff of science fiction -- a reality."

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories