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Researchers develop ‘Artificial Skin’ that gives soldiers the ability to be invisible

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The pixelized screen gathers data from surrounding to mimic the environment and autonomously changes color to provide camouflage

A new artificial skin developed by researchers now gives soldiers the ability to be invisible and makes them undetectable to even thermal imaging cameras.

A team of South Korean researchers, inspired by ‘Cephalopods’ ability to cloak into any background, have developed this cloaking skin which uses heating and cooling to mimic colors of the surrounding environment and can switch from one to other in five seconds

They wanted to reproduce its extraordinary ability to easily blend and hide in the infrared and visible spectrum.

Under the study, a multispectral imperceptible skin that enables the user’s skin to blend in background IR-visible integrated spectrum only by simple temperature control with active cooling and heating functions was developed.

Illustration of thermal and optional cloning by Seoul National University

The device is designed as wearable patches that use thermochromic liquid crystals screens to respond to the surrounding environment and can conceal human skin in a multispectral range.

The patches are made of bendable material that can mold to the various curvature of the skin. The patch is lined with pixelized screens and has a thermoelectric (TE) unit embedded inside that uses reverse electric current technology to cool or heat the device.

The device changes color from red, green to blue depending on temperature readings by pixels.

The device is in the initial developmental stages but the team has started testing wearables in various conditions and backgrounds. The results of the initial experiments showed that individual pixels quickly adjust to the environment with accuracy. The team also addressed the concern of device ability being affected when users are placed in extreme environments like deserts and the Arctic.

‘This problem may be solved by adding a proper thermal insulator… But this might also cause performance to vary, which means more experimentation is needed before the device is fully prepared for live combat.’

SEUNG WHAN KO OF SEOUL NATIONAL UNIVERSITY AND LEAD OF THE STUDY TOLD DEFENSE ONE

The study was published in Advanced Functional Materials Journal.

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