The Hi-Tech Future of Camouflage What Will They Think of Next?

By on May 6, 2015

Pink camo rifle

While camouflage clothing for men and women is the hottest thing to hit the fashion industry since, well, camouflage clothes, camo clothing was never intended it be a fashion statement. In fact, when the first camouflage pattern was created by the French military during World War II, it was for much different, more practical reasons: to remain hidden from the enemy.

However, long before the French — even though they are quite fashion forward — even conceived the idea of creating camouflage, members of the animal kingdom have been rocking various camouflage patterns for millennia. In fact, one 60-million-year old creature does it better than most. That creature, is the squid.

The squid is all about going camo clad. In a classic case of biomimicry, squid have inspired a team of UC Irvine researchers led by chemical engineering professor Alon Gorodetsky to create a kind of dynamic camouflage that changes color based on its surroundings, much in the same way squid do.

Gorodetsky and his team are using bacteria to create synthetic a squid protein called Reflectin, which is precisely what squid use to manipulate light in order to change color. The team hopes that one day, this technology could be used for military purposes, both the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy have expressed interest.

Reflectin isn’t your grandmother’s kind of camouflage clothes. In preliminary lab tests, Reflectin-coated stickers are able to reflect light in a number of unique ways. For example, a strip of shiny, coated material that is normally metallic blue in color will faded into red when placed on red paper. Reflectin is so advanced that its able to on colors across the spectrum, and even has the rare ability to reflect infrared light, a trait which most things — weather natural or man made — do not possess.

In addition to being dynamic, Reflectin is also quite responsive. Scientists hope that in the future, it can also be used in clothing such as athletic wear to help regulate body temperature.

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