It looks like squid isn't just a tasty entree anymore. Scientists at the University of California Irvine may have found a way to turn the slippery sea swimmer into an ingredient in camouflaging armor. Using a structural protein found in squid called reflectin, researchers were able to specially formulate a unique, light-reflecting coating that could help soldiers to better blend in with their surroundings, a first step in the quest to create truly effective stealth armor.
In nature, reflectin is indispensable to a squid's survival, since it helps them change color and reflect light in order to escape predators. When the protein is isolated and grown in a bacteria culture, it creates a thin film that almost duplicates the effect of the squid skin, shifting its reflectiveness of light and color. This allows it to disappear and reappear when viewed with an infrared camera. Because infrared cameras are often used in military surveillance, the enhanced visibility and invisibility abilities of reflectin would be a huge boon in stealth operations.
The success of reflectin has motivate researchers to try and find more nature-sourced materials for stealth ops, as well as looking for ways to increase the refinement of reflectin reactivity in different environments. The ultimate hope is to produce a garment that will be able to change in texture and color depending on the surroundings.