ISLAMABAD           -         Chameleons are famous for their color-changing abilities. Depending on their body temperature or mood, their nervous system directs skin tissue that contains nanocrystals to expand or contract, changing how the nanocrystals reflect light and turning the reptile’s skin a rainbow of colors. Inspired by this, scientists at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago have developed a way to stretch and strain liquid crystals to generate different colors. By creating a thin film of polymer filled with liquid crystal droplets and then manipulating it, they have determined the fundamentals for a color-changing sensing system that could be used for smart coatings, sensors, and even wearable electronics.

The research, led by Juan de Pablo, Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering, was published in the journal Science Advances. Liquid crystals, which exhibit distinct molecular orientations, are already the basis for many display technologies.