Soldiers May One Day Be Invisible Thanks To Artificial Skin
The ability to camouflage at will is usually reserved for sci-fi monsters. However, new research from South Korea may enable soldiers to remove their heat signature and blend into their surroundings at will.
A research paper has detailed ways in which metamaterials can be used as patches to help soldiers blend into their surroundings. The patches would be reactive to heat and would allow the user to cloak their heat signature as well as change colour, in a similar fashion to a squid. The ability to change with the heat of the area means that the wearer of a patch could change colour in around five seconds.
The effects of the patch can be seen below:
The patches use thermochromic liquid crystals, and this allows them to change colour with the temperature. It is hoped that this kind of technology could allow soldiers to go undetected in battlezones. The technology was demonstrated by using it on a hand in a variety of temperatures with several different background colours.
The leader of this research, Seung Hwan Ko, explained the results of the experiment in a subsequent paper:
As the hand moves across different backgrounds (whether it is a visible or [Infrared] cloaking mode)… each pixel sequentially switches its color/temperature based on their relative positions.
Despite this impressive achievement, the research team still has more work to do. The team want the technology to be able to ‘see’ the colour around it and change accordingly. At the moment, the data that enables the colour change is being inputted by a computer, but the team are already close to a solution.
Seung Hwan Ko told Defense One of the progress the team is making in this area:
We recently developed a method to detect and mimic the environment by integrating a micro camera with our devices to make an autonomously working device.
With this step forward in mind, the technology could be getting closer to a practical application. The research team now intends to showcase larger patches to demonstrate its camouflage and thermal cloaking ability for the military.
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