Saturday, April 25, 2009

Nano-Camo: Chameleon-like Camouflage Outfits in the Offing


In the near future, just in five to ten years, the adventurous people can see some of their fantasies come true. They can own outfits that will turn blue when at sea and brown when in a desert environment. The same effect could be used in making everyday chic fashion clothing for fashionistas that automatically changes color to fit different visual settings. Sandia National Laboratories researchers have demonstrated that, in theory, they could cause synthetic materials to change color just like certain fish species which blend with their environment by changing color.

The Basic Principle Underlying Nano Camouflage Clothing

The researchers have followed the mechanism that the fish use to change colors. The power source for the whole process depends upon the basic cellular fuel called ATP, which releases energy as it breaks down. Around 50% of the power is absorbed by the motor proteins, the tiny molecular motors that can move along surfaces. When fish change colors, motor proteins aggregate and disperse skin pigment crystals carried in their “tails” as they walk with their “feet” along the microtubule skeleton of the cell. They rearrange the color display through this.

The on/off switch
The scientists are also introducing on/off switch to control the motion of the motor proteins. The effect is controllable, and even reversible. “We essentially reengineered the protein structure to introduce a switch into the motor,” says the principal investigator George Bachand. “So we can now turn our nanofluidic devices on and off.” Previous efforts at regulating motor activity have used fuel intake as a control mechanism which operated on the principle- the less the fuel, the slower the process. However, the Nano-camo switch operates independently of fuel changes, resembling the improvement in early automobile technologies when a simple ignition switch took over for more complicated rheostats.
So, just wait and watch for the amazing chameleon-like camouflage 'Nano-camo' for fashionistas and environmentalists.
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