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Squid-inspired jacket reflects full color spectrum

Out There | August 26, 2019 | By:

Vollebak’s Black Squid jacket, inspired by the ocean creature, is able to reflect all colors of the visible light spectrum.

Innovative sportswear and sports gear company, Vollebak, has launched a jacket that will reflect all colors of the visible light spectrum. The Black Squid Jacket is a fully waterproof and windproof outer shell that mimics one of nature’s most mesmerising innovations – the adaptive camouflage of the squid. 

Over the last 500 million years they’ve evolved the ability to change their color and appearance at high speed and with almost infinite variety to hide, attack, or communicate. The company has replicated elements of this biological survival mechanism using lasers, resin and over 2 billion disruptively-structured microscopic glass spheres. The result is a mind-bending ski and snowboard jacket. 

Vollebak’s Black Squid jacket looks mostly flat black in subdued light conditions.

While it looks like metal or oil in dull light conditions, when exposed to bright light it instantly reflects every color in the visible spectrum. This alien-like power is useful whether you want to be seen on the ski slopes or you’re a 20cm sea creature trying to avoid becoming someone’s dinner.

Because of its transformational properties, squid skin is currently the subject of serious scientific study. The goal is to create an equivalent synthetic material that can rapidly camouflage itself by mimicking its surrounding environment. Military researchers, in particular are looking for solutions that would enable soldiers and machines to seemingly disappear. 

This first iteration of this jacket, however, focuses on replicating the elements of squid skin that make it hypervisible. While the squid uses microscopic plate-like structures on the surface of its skin to change color, the Black Squid jacket uses disruptively-structured microscopic glass spheres. With over two billion of them embedded in resin on the jacket’s surface, and over 40,000 in every single square centimetre, they’re invisible to the naked eye. 

When light hits the jacket, it travels through the curved surface of these black glass spheres and strikes the back of them, before being reflected back at the original light source and scattered away from it simultaneously, so that the fabric looks like it’s emitting light. Indoors, or in subdued light conditions during the day, the jacket is a dull metallic black, with flashes of color in the surface just like you’d find in a pool of oil or sheet of metal.

The jacket is a waterproof and windproof uninsulated outer shell to work with layering systems worn underneath for warmth. 

Headquartered in London, Vollebak was founded by twin brothers, designers and athletes Nick and Steve Tidball. The company has launched Graphene Jacket, taking its first steps towards the goal of creating bionic clothing, the company says. It also offers “100 Year Pants,” built to withstand fire, nature, water and the rest of this century, and a shirt designed for all 510 million square kilometers on the surface of Earth. Its Solar Charged Jacket won Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2018 and other major awards.

Photos and videos: Vollebak.

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