Artists, print designers, and interior decorators have long had access to a broad palette of paint and ink colors for their work. Now, researchers have created a broad color palette of electrochromic polymers, materials that can be used for sunglasses, window tinting, and other applications that rely on electrical current to produce color changes.
By developing electrochromic polymer materials in a range of primary and secondary colors and combining them in specific blends, the researchers have covered the color spectrum — even creating four shades of brown, a particularly difficult color combination.
The materials could be used to make sunglasses that change from tinted to clear in a matter of seconds, at the press of a button. Other uses could include window tinting, signage, and even greeting cards that change color through the application of low-voltage electrical current.
Supported by BASF, the research was reported in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. The work was done in the laboratory of John Reynolds, a professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech.
“We’ve demonstrated the ability to create virtually any color we want by mixing different electrochromic polymers, just like mixing paint,” said Anna Österholm, a research scientist in Reynolds’ lab. “Using a simple coating method or even inkjet printing, we can create films that change color with the application of a voltage.”—JOHN TOON