Scientists have designed invisibility stickers which could help soldiers evade detection even from infrared cameras.
The researchers will present their work at the 249th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Denver this week.
“Soldiers wear uniforms with the familiar green and brown camouflage patterns to blend into foliage during the day, but under low light and at night, they’re still vulnerable to infrared detection,” says researcher Alon Gorodetsky of the University of California at Irvine.
“We’ve developed stickers for use as a thin, flexible layer of camo with the potential to take on a pattern that will better match the soldiers’ infrared reflectance to their background and hide them from active infrared.”
See the technology at work in this video clip:
The researchers turned to squid skin for inspiration. Squid skin features cells known as iridocytes, layers of a protein called reflectin. The animal changes the thickness of the layers and their spacing which affects how the cells reflect light and the skin’s colouration.
Gorodetsky has fabricated reflectin films on polymers which look like household sticky tape.
“We’re going after something that’s inexpensive and completely disposable,” he says. “You take out this protein-coated tape, you use it quickly to make an appropriate camouflage pattern on the fly, then you take it off and throw it away.”
Gorodetsky says the team needs to work out how to increase the brightness of the stickers and get multiple stickers to respond in the same way.