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New spray on ink uses light to change colour

New spray-on ink uses light to change colour

Sunday 15 September 2019

Image Accreditation: MIT CSAIL

Imagine if your new trainers could change colour like a chameleon. Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have made it possible.

CSAIL have created a new spray-on ink that can infinitely change colour, design and pattern of the object its sprayed on to. The ink changes colour when blasted various wavelengths of light.

The process has been named PhotoChromeleon by the researchers. It uses a series of photochromic dyes that can be applied to almost any object by standard painting methods using a brush or spray but is still invisible until exposed to certain kinds of light wavelengths.

The mixed colour dyes each react to different wavelengths of light, allowing researchers to selectively activate or deactivate specific colours and patterns depending on which light they expose the object to.

The team are only able to apply a certain number of colours to an object at the moment but working with material scientists in the future could improve the colour spectrum of dyes used; creating endless possibilities for a range of scenarios.

CSAIL postdoc Yuhua Jin is the lead author on a new paper about the project.

He said, “This special type of dye could enable a whole myriad of customisation options that could improve manufacturing efficiency and reduce overall waste, users could personalise their belongings and appearance on a daily basis, without the need to buy the same object multiple times in different colours and styles.”


  1. Gizmodo.
  2. MIT.


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