Combat Vehicles Camouflaged by 'Chameleon' Coating
The Russian Army plans to coat its military vehicles in a chameleon coating that can change color depending on the surrounding landscape.
"A prototype of a camouflage coating based on electrochromic materials has been created,” said a source from the military industrial complex, a Russian news agency reports. “Currently, prototypes of the coating are being tested on mock-ups of equipment.”
Various armored vehicles, such as tanks, infantry fighting machines and personnel carriers, are planned to be equipped with the technology. The color-changing coating was developed by Ruselectronics and consists of several small plates of electrochromic coating.
The source explains that the system involves video cameras that collect information from the outside and pass it on to a computer. Based on the information received, the computer then changes the color and image on the exterior of the vehicle.
The speed of the camouflage’s reaction to changes in the environment is “fractions of a second,” allowing the vehicle to merge with the landscape and avoid enemy tracking from satellites, drones and aircraft.
Other Camouflaging Coatings
In 2015, the University of California-Irvine presented their “invisibility stickers” research, using proteins found in squid to avoid infrared detection.
Layers of the protein are found in cells called iridocytes on the squid's skin. Using a "biochemical cascade," the squid can change the thickness and spacing of the protein layers, changing how the cells reflect light and show color.
Unwilling to slaughter squid in the name of his invention, UCI’s Alon Gorodetsky, Ph.D., and his group developed a way to produce reflectin from bacteria in the lab and then coated a hard substrate with the protein.
With the tape capable of adhering to a variety of surfaces and its reflectance adjustable, "we can endow common objects with any shape or form factor with tunable camouflage capabilities," the team wrote.
More recently, last year, Engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced in January the development of a new ultrathin coating, reported to camouflage heat when viewed through infrared technology.
In using samarium nickel oxide, engineers were able to craft the new ultrathin coating, which UW–Madison professor of electrical and computer engineering Mikhail Kats reports could have applications in heat transfer, camouflage and even clothing as to protect personal privacy as infrared cameras become more available to consumers.
Alireza Shahsafi, a doctoral student in Kats’ lab and one of the lead authors of the study, reports that this is because the coating’s emissivity—the degree to which a given material will emit light at a given temperature—will go down with temperature and cancels out its intrinsic radiation.
To demonstrate the coating's efficiency, Shahsafi and Patrick Roney led engineers in experimental work that involved suspending a coated piece of sapphire and an uncoated reference piece alongside a heater so that a portion of each sample was touching the heater, while the rest remained suspended in cool air.
When viewed under an infrared camera, the coated sapphire’s thermal image remained largely uniform; however, the reference piece revealed a distinct temperature gradient: from deep blue to pink, red, orange and nearly white. Several other students in Kats’ group characterized the coating through microscopy and other methods.