Professor Alon Gorodetsky and PhD student Chengyi Xu at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) have created a novel soft material that can provide invisibility from infrared night vision and control temperature loss, inspired by similar properties of squid skin. Thermal cameras detect differences in temperature by sensing infrared wavelengths. To circumvent this mechanism, researchers used a basic reflector composed of layers of materials with different refractive indices such as aluminum, plastic, and sticky tape. This allows the material to transform from wrinkled to glossy when it is manually pulled or electrically triggered, changing the way it reflects heat. This also effectively serves to modulate heat loss.
The researchers have already created patent-pending prototypes that can be scaled up for commercial production. This “invisibility” material can be used in a variety of areas, such as military camouflage, insulation for containers and shelters, packaging, spacecraft components, and heating and cooling systems.