Special Ink Switches Colors of Objects

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. a play on words / ə pleɪ ɒn wɜrdz / (idiom) – creative use of a word that has several meanings or that sounds like another word

    The restaurant’s name, The Codfather, is a play on words. It’s a combination of a certain type of fish and the film The Godfather.

  2. computer-generated / kəmˈpyu tər ˈdʒɛn əˌreɪtɪd / (adj) – made or produced using a computer program

    They used computer-generated images in their film to make it more realistic.

  3. reversible / rɪˈvɜr sə bəl / (adj) – can be changed back to the original or previous condition

    According to the doctors, the patient should not worry because her memory loss is reversible.

  4. infinitely / ˈɪn fə nɪt li / (adv) – to a limitless extent or degree

    The universe is infinitely huge.

  5. personalize / ˈpɜr sə nlˌaɪz / (v) – to make something suited to a particular person’s needs or preferences

    The app’s features allow different users to personalize their travel experience.


Read the text below.

A newly invented special ink allows objects to change their colors with ease.

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) has invented an ink that lets objects change colors when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) and other visible light sources. The team called it PhotoChromeleon Ink, a play on words associating the ink’s ability to change colors to a chameleon’s.

The ink was created by mixing special cyan, yellow, and magenta dyes into a solution that can be sprayed or painted onto an object. The colors can be controlled and manipulated using UV or different kinds of visible light. For example, using a blue light on an object deactivates the other colors in the solution, so the object projects a blue color.

To test the ink, objects coated with the solution were placed inside a box with a UV light and a projector. The UV light activated and deactivated certain colors, then the projector adjusted them to the appropriate shade. Once the colors were activated, the computer-generated patterns emerged.

The color-changing process can take from 15 to 40 minutes depending on the size and shape of the object. The process is reversible, so the patterns can be erased and changed infinitely.

The researchers said that with the special ink, people can easily personalize their things. Easy customization can preserve valuable resources and help consumers avoid buying the same item in different colors. With the customizable ink, waste will be lessened, and manufacturing will be more efficient.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, what industries would benefit from this invention? Discuss.
• If you could use the special ink, what would you use it on? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you think the invention can really reduce waste from manufacturing industries? Why or why not?
• Aside from those mentioned in the article, what are the other possible impacts of customizable products? Discuss.