Camouflage paint, which on the surface can help hide soldiers, is now getting an added layer of protection that could shield their faces from harsh blasts.
Scientific American reports the new paint can help protect soldiers from up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Here's how it works:
Conventional camo paint has tiny nanoparticles of pigment. They're great at reflecting visible light—which is why the paint looks green or black or tan. But the particles don't reflect longer wavelengths, like heat. To do that, you need larger globs of pigment.
So researchers bundled together a bunch of those smaller particles into chunks the size of grains of sand—large enough for heat rays to bounce right off. And they swapped out the grease for silicone which adds smoothness and spreadability to cosmetics, but won't catch fire.
The research was conducted by scientists at the University of Southern Mississippi, funded through the U.S. Department of Defense and presented at an American Chemical Society meeting this week.
New Scientist reports that the paint was able to protect the skin completely from the heat for two seconds and from first-degree burns for 15 seconds. Researchers believe this could give soldiers the necessary time to get away from a blast as unscathed as possible.
Watch the demonstration of the product:
CNET reports the researchers saying they had to overcome many challenges to create the shielding paint, especially given that the flammable compound DEET had to be included in the material to repel insects.
"We didn't think we could do it," Richard Lockheed with the university said according to CNET.
New Scientist also points out that the researchers are developing a colorless version to be used by firefighters. CNET reports they will also be testing their technique on materials, like fabric, as well.