Light Electro-Optical Active reflectivity Device (LEOPARD) Technology

Period of Performance: 01/27/2000 - 01/27/2002

$730K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Physical Sciences, Inc.
ANDOVER, MA 01810
Principal Investigator

Research Topics

Abstract

Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) and University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) propose to develop a system of robust, field-deployable electrochromic (EC) devices and sensors for actively sensing the background environment of an object and adjusting its reflectivity in visible spectrum to minimize its contrast with the environment. The LEOPARD(TM) (Light Electro-Optical Active Reflectivity Device) technology comprises a large array of variable color EC devices having different color ranges characteristic of the natural terrain and Army camouflage, a high resolution color CCD camera(s), and an embedded electronic system for controlling the ECs. The system will be designed so that a variety of thin-film EC technologies can be seamlessly integrated. PSI and UTD propose to use conductive polymer ECs that best meet the requirements of camouflage color range, high cyclability, low power, mechanical ruggedness, environmental resistance, and low manufacturing cost. During Phase I, we have demonstrated the feasibility of a variable color control system and EC devices with three-color ranges. In Phase II, we will develop additional polymers, ECs devices, color matching and control system algorithms, and electronics. We will also deliver a functionally and environmentally tested, flexible camouflage panel with integrated control electronics to the Army for further test and evaluation. BENEFITS: The military market is a clear near-term opportunity for commercial applications of the LEOPARD(tm) technology, but a variety of extremely large consumer applications will ensue as the technology matures and prices are driven down through increased volume. The military market includes "smart" camouflage appliques on fixed and mobile platforms: storage facilities, radar installations, border posts, tanks, fighting vehicles, aircraft and UAVs, and small boats. The larger market for commercial applications includes Electronically Programmable Billboards for outdoor advertising, programmable displays on buildings and buses, and variable color windows. This commercial market volume is estimated to be $20B to $30B.