Those moody materials, what a steal!

Those moody materials, what a steal!

There is nothing more innocent than to be fooled by merchants that take advantage of the magic of science. Those moody materials… do you remember the famous “mood rings” that were supposed to kiss and tell your mood or your friend’s mood? Yes, exactly, it is just science! Science of materials! According to wikipedia, this ring was invented in 1975 by two Newyorkers, Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats by mixing liquid crystals with quartz stones to make the rings.

photo: chemestryabout.com

photo: chemistry about

Now, let’s dissect this magical trick:
Liquid Crystals: are thermochromatic organic materials, meaning a change in color due to temperature but limited in color projection. For this reason most tricky-color changing objects carry what is called: Leuco dyes. This material, allows a broader range of colors and mostly depending on the surface or agent material it is combined with.

Another magical-commercial idea invented is by Generra Hypercolor, a t-shirt brand that impregnated the fabric with thermochromatic dyes (leuco). This one also changes between two colors: lighter when warm, original color when cold. Are you having a laugh?

photo: notcouture.com

photo: notcouture

Now, apparently it is a degradation of the base color to its pure color (white), what happens to fabric. What happens to quartz, the additional component of the mood ring, creates the multicolor effect, adding the leuco dyes perhaps.  Surfaces give multicolor effects, textile give degradation effect. Let’s see other updated uses of this silly idea:

photo: onthemoveafrica.blogspot.com

photo: onthemoveafrica

An artsy look in your living room might be interesting provided by this thermochromatic finish  by designer Jay Watson. This is by far one of the best examples showcased with this material’s finish; it’s interesting the way black ends up being naked wood.  Besides this design and others, is the famous heat sensitive tile for the bathrooms, countertops and other styles, something highly unlikely for my taste, although some people might find useful (oh well…).
Recently posted, a team of materials explorers at Openmaterials.org, added the thermochromatic materials to their open source list. Catarina Mota, cofounder, explains the reaction of the material with hot and cold surfaces.  In this case, the experiment shows only black/white color changes, plus nichrome (a non magnetic alloy of nickel, chromium and iron) mixed up with fabric.

In conclusion, the argument is flattered by the interesting effect generated by this minerals, but is it really useful besides the applications for battery testing, heat detecting on hot beverages and others? How far can we go with this material without falling into the ridiculous bucket?
An old experiment I found years ago, keep flowing around the web but hasn’t been developed yet. It’s the Chronos, Chromos Concrete, same technology applied to this harsh composite called concrete. What happened to this innovative idea? 

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Mabelle Plasencia

Founder and Editor at INmatteria©
• Architect | LEED AP BD+C, with an intense passion for materiality, innovation, technology and science. • Arquitecta | LEED AP BD+C apasionada por la materialidad, innovación, tecnología y ciencia.