New film changes colors when you stretch it

Materials scientists often look to the natural world for inspiration, but usually it takes their inventions a while to catch up with biological discoveries. Not this time. Earlier this week, scientists in Switzerland revealed that chameleons change colors by expanding a lattice of tiny crystals just under their skin. Now, researchers in California are reporting that they’ve made a thin film that changes colors when they tug on it. Such films could produce color-changing sensors that give engineers a way to monitor potentially dangerous structural changes to everything from bridges to airplane wings.

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