A team of scientists from the University Central Florida (USA) has developed an innovative technique to create an ultra-thin, flexible and full-color reflective screen. It is the first device of its kind worldwide and has been collected this week by Nature Communications.
This new technique has allowed designing a lightweight, flexible screen that does not require light source for its operation: it seems a second skin that simulates the mechanism of camouflage animals such as chameleons or octopuses.
"Any man-made display, whether LCD, LED, CRT ... is rigid, fragile and bulky. But if you look at an octopus, you see that you can create colors on your skin, a screen that covers your entire body, with very complex contours, and is also stretchable and flexible. And that is our goal: Can we take inspiration from biology and create a screen that looks like skin? "Explains study leader Dibasic.
Inspired by nature, scientists designed this reflective material with a thin layer of liquid crystal placed on a metal nanostructure capable of absorbing some wavelengths and reflecting others. In this way, the colors that are reflected, that is, those that perceive the ones we look at, can be controlled at will by regulating a small electric current that interacts with the molecules of the liquid crystal layer and the Plasmon waves of the Surface of the metal nanostructure.
Unlike other earlier devices that could display a rather limited range of colors, this screen can "play" with any type of color with a size 15 times thinner than a human hair.
Future applications for this reflective skin are as varied as accessible. We could have clothes that would change color at will (and any type of textile or plastic alike) or screens for mobile or computers completely flexible, thin and light.
"Your camouflage, your clothes, your fashion accessories - All could change. Why do I need 50 shirts in my closet if I can change the color and the drawings of one at will? ", Explains Chandra.