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‘Artificial skin’ that gives soldiers the power of invisibility on the battlefield uses pixelized screens which autonomously heat or cool to mimic the environment

 New artificial skin gives soldiers the power of invisibility on the battlefield and makes them undetectable to thermal imaging cameras. 

A South Korean team developed a type of cloaking skin uses activating heating and cooling to mimic colors of the surrounding environment that are capable of switching from one to another in just five seconds.

Designed as patches, the wearables are made of pixelized screens that use thermochromic liquid crystals screens to rapidly respond to the surrounding area and conceal human skin in multispectral ranges.

The patches are currently in the early stages, but the team told Defense One that the devices use a specialized micro camera that allows them to autonomously respond to the surrounding area.

A South Korean team developed a type of cloaking skin uses activating heating and cooling to mimic colors of the surrounding environment that are capable of switching from one to another in just five seconds

A South Korean team developed a type of cloaking skin uses activating heating and cooling to mimic colors of the surrounding environment that are capable of switching from one to another in just five seconds

‘Cephalopods’ extraordinary ability to hide into any background has inspired researchers to reproduce the intriguing ability to readily camouflage in the infrared (IR) and visible spectrum but this still remains as a conundrum,’ reads the study published in the Advanced Functional Materials journal.

‘In this study, a multispectral imperceptible skin that enables human skin to actively blend into the background both in the IR-visible integrated spectrum only by simple temperature control with a flexible bi-functional device (active cooling and heating) is developed.’


The patches are bendable and conform to the various curvature of the skin, allowing the user to wear them as an artificial skin.

Pixelized screens line the patches and consist of a thermoelectric (TE) unit that cools or heats up by applying a reverse electric current.

To test the wearables, the team placed a patch on a human and moved it across a background of different colors and temperatures. They observed the ‘individual pixels in the imperceptible artificial skin quickly adjusted to the background environment to such an accuracy that it appears as if there is an empty hole on the hand'

To test the wearables, the team placed a patch on a human and moved it across a background of different colors and temperatures. They observed the ‘individual pixels in the imperceptible artificial skin quickly adjusted to the background environment to such an accuracy that it appears as if there is an empty hole on the hand'

The units change from red, green to blue depending on the temperature determined by the pixels.

To test the wearables, the team placed a patch on a human and moved it across a background of different colors and temperatures.

They observed the ‘individual pixels in the imperceptible artificial skin quickly adjusted to the background environment to such an accuracy that it appears as if there is an empty hole on the hand,’ reads the study.

For another demonstration, the patches were placed on a human’s cheeks in the background of the bushes.

New artificial skin gives soldiers the power of invisibility on the battlefield and makes them undetectable to thermal imaging cameras

New artificial skin gives soldiers the power of invisibility on the battlefield and makes them undetectable to thermal imaging cameras 

For another demonstration, the patches were placed on a human’s cheeks in the background of the bushes. The area of the skin that is covered with the device matches the background and appears to look like an extension of the camouflage-patterned military uniform

For another demonstration, the patches were placed on a human’s cheeks in the background of the bushes. The area of the skin that is covered with the device matches the background and appears to look like an extension of the camouflage-patterned military uniform

The area of the skin that is covered with the device matches the background and appears to look like an extension of the camouflage-patterned military uniform.

The team has also addressed issues where users would be placed in extreme temperatures, such as the Arctic or in the desert, which could affect the device's cloaking ability.

Seung Whan Ko of Seoul National University and lead of the study told Defense One that ‘this problem may be solved by adding a proper thermal insulator.. But this might also cause performance to vary, which means more experimentation is needed before the device is fully prepared for live combat.’

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