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Body-temp camouflage for soldiers shows promise

August 9th, 2021 / By: / What's New?

Researchers at the University of California San Diego have developed a wearable technology that can hide a person from heat-detecting sensors, such as night vision goggles, adapting to temperature changes within minutes. As reported by the UC San Diego news center, the technology uses materials that can create heating or cooling effects when the ambient temperature changes, and flexible electronics that can be embedded into clothing. 

With a surface that can go from 10 to 38 degrees Celsius (50 to 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit) in under a minute, the device quickly cools or heats to match ambient temperatures, thereby camouflaging the wearer’s body heat. The inside stays the same temperature as human skin. The wireless device, currently at proof-of-concept stage, can be embedded into fabric, so that eventually it could be made into a jacket.

The device is powered by a battery and controlled by a wireless circuit board. Its outer layer is made of thermoelectric alloys between elastomer sheets. The current garment is still too heavy and thick, and it works for just an hour, so improvements are underway. The team was led by UC San Diego mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Renkun Chen; the work was recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials