In the latest issue of the journal Advanced Materials, the researchers report on the creation of a biomimetic infrared camouflage coating inspired by Loliginidae (also known as pencil squids, or more familiarly, as the menu item calamari).
Lead researcher Alon Gorodetsky explained that the team devised a method to producereflectin (a structural protein the squid uses to change color and reflect light) in common bacteria. The modified bacterial population were then used to make thin, optically active films that mimic the skin of a squid.
“The novelty of this coating lies in its functionality within the near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, roughly 700 to 1,200 nanometers, which matches the standard imaging range of most infrared visualization equipment,” said Gorodetsky. “This region is not usually accessible to biologically derived reflective materials.”
Military forces use infrared detection extensively for night vision, navigation, surveillance, and targeting. Gorodetsky reports that with the appropriate stimuli, the films’ coloration and reflectance can shift back and forth, giving the film a dynamic configurability that allows it to disappear and reappear when visualized with an infrared camera.