Fantasy Becomes Reality: UCI Develops Invisibility Material

UCI Professor Alon Gorodetsky and his doctoral student Chengyi Xu made a massive breakthrough in the science world — they created an invisibility material.

The material is paper-thin and, according to Science Newsline, made up of aluminium, plastic and sticky tape. Xu noted that their “adaptive infrared-reflecting system changes the way it reflects heat in similar fashion to how squid skin changes the way it reflects light. In the resting state, the device surface is wrinkled and dull. Upon actuation, the device surface becomes smooth and shiny, reflecting more infrared radiation.”

Much of the inspiration behind the invisibility material came from squids and other cephalopods that can become invisible by simply reflecting light differently. Many animals use heat and other light reflecting mechanism to change their normal skin color into a glossy glass-like appearance. Unfortunately, the material that professor Gorodetsky and his student Xu created is only invisible under infrared light.

According to Xu, “This is because visible and infrared represent two distinct wavelength regions in the electromagnetic spectrum. However, in principle, our generic system design could be adapted for functionality within the visible.”

Hopefully, in the near future, UCI engineers and scientists can figure out how to make things invisible to the human eye as well.

Xu noted the implications of Gorodetsky’s invention is massive and can be used in various fields. Xu said that their “infrared-reflecting platforms will potentially benefit a wide variety of technologies that requires the regulation of infrared radiation, including (but not limited to) building insulation, energy-conserving windows, spacecraft components, electronics shielding, container packaging, protective clothing, patient care and camouflage platforms. The described adaptive infrared camouflage is just one of all listed possibilities.”

Something that was just considered fantasy a few years back can now be used to ease the burdens of our society.

Professor Gorodetsky and Xu are among the many UCI engineers making headway into the future. However, their invention does not end here. Xu stated that they “are pursuing both autonomous thermoregulatory technologies and adaptive camouflage systems that function in the visible as [their] next steps.”