New material provides everyday UV radiation detection

A reusable synthetic material changes color when it detects UV radiation, helping wearers better manage their exposure.

Researchers from the University of Turku, Finland, developed a reusable synthetic material that changes color when it detects UV radiation. Called SensoGlow, the photochromic material is made from a synthetic version of hackmanite. Hackmanite changes color when exposed to sunlight and is a naturally occurring mineral. SensoGlow also indicates the intensity of the radiation by changing the depth of the color. The darker the color, the more radiation is present. Because scientists create the new mineral in the lab, it reacts to any or all of UVA, UVB or UVC radiation. Color-changing materials are not new; what is new with SensoGlow is its durability.

Organic materials irreversibly change color by rearranging their molecules. Synthetic SensoGlow, on the other hand, stores electrons. That is what the Inorganic Materials Chemistry research group says makes the material long-lasting. Electron storage is reversible, which is how SensoGlow reverts back to its original color when out of the light. The new material should be easy to produce because it is made from relatively inexpensive materials. Scientists are focusing their development work on future applications of the material. Two of the first most usable formats are likely to be stickers and apps.

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