Fiber optic and fiber-device scientists in the laboratories of the University of Central Florida (UCF) have developed a new technology for an innovative textile that changes color and appearance on demand. The scientists believe ChroMorphous technology is a first in e-textiles and fabrics, as older versions of color-changing fabrics need sunlight or body heat to work. However, these older iterations did not allow the user to decide when and how the transformation would take place.
The fibers in the product contain a conductive micro-wire, so when an electrical current passes through the micro-wire, the fiber warms up slightly, activating its color-changing pigment. The fabric does not emit light; rather, the pigment in the fabric physically changes color when activated.
The possible patterns that can be generated are determined by the number of fiber groups, or “stripes,” connected in the fabric. Activating all the groups results in the entire fabric changing color. Activating every other group results in a pattern of alternating stripes. Any combination of groups can be activated at once, or dynamically controlled to create one pattern followed by another.
While current prototypes contain Chromorphous fibers in the weft, future products will have Chromorphous fibers in the warp and weft, which will enable both vertical and horizontal stripes at the same time, as well as the possibility for patterns such as a checkerboard. A range of color palettes are available. These color palettes are set at the factory level during the manufacturing of each product.
The current technology allows for a color palette that enables changes among four different colors. The product also offers the flexibility of fabric that can be used indoors or outdoors.
A collaboration with four companies will bring the new material into the commercial market: Chameleon International, contributing its color-changing formulations; Hills Inc., producer of multi-component fiber extrusion technology; Inman Mills will produce the woven fabric; and WETESO, a wearable tech design firm, partnered with UCF in developing prototypes and media assets that highlight the capabilities of the new textiles.