Changing colours and patterns with UV light

MIT researchers developed a way to rapidly change the colour or patterns on object surfaces using an ultraviolet (UV) light projector and light activated dye.

Called ChromoUpdate, the projected light alters the reflective properties of the dye, creating colourful new images in just a few minutes. The project is an update of an earlier project called PhotoChromeleon, which you can read about here. The new project accelerates the process. Rather than using LED, like the previous time, this time, the researches uses a UV projector that can vary light levels across the surface. This means the operator has pixel-level control over saturation levels, locally and in exact patterns.

The selective saturation procedure allows designers to create a black-and-white preview of a design in seconds, or a full-colour prototype in minutes. This means they could try out any design they want in a single work session and have a physical prototype.

In addition, the project could be used to give realtime notifications without relying on screens, like printing your daily schedule on your mug.

Currently, the light-activated ink is specialised for smooth, rigid surfaces like mugs, phone cases, or cars. The researchers are working on flexible, programmable textile, by dying fabrics with the light-activated ink and using light-emitting fibres.

Images: MIT