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Engineers Create Chameleon Artificial 'Skin' That Shifts Color

Remember those X-Men characters that could take any shape or color as well as adopt the identity of another person? Well, if the science keeps up the good work on, anyone could boast of their awesome unique abilities, to shift skin color for instance.

Last Tuesday was the big day for chameleons: engineers from the University of California at Berkeley announced they'd developed a thousand times thinner than a human hair material that can change color on demand, like a chameleon. Actually, the chameleon's color-shifting trick isn't complicated at all. A layer of skin cells contains tiny crystals that reflect light differently depending on their spacing. Thus, when the reptile is relaxed, its skin takes on one color; when it's flexed – the color transforms. So does the newly invented material that can be easily made to shift color just by applying a minute amount of force.

"This is the first time anybody has made a flexible chameleon-like skin that can change color simply by flexing it," said the study leader Connie J. Chang-Hasnain. The new synthetic color changing material offers intriguing possibilities for entirely new defect-detecting sensors or display technologies in structures like buildings, bridges, and aircrafts.