Chameleon Construction

Architects should take tips from… chameleons?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Chameleons change color to maintain ideal body temperature. If only our houses could do the same! We’d save so much money! Wait… is that … possible?

Well, Chenxi Sui and team from Duke University turned this idea into action!

They developed a color-changing coating that switches between insulating and releasing heat. It’s made of copper, water, and platinum-coated graphene. 

In cooling mode, the copper is dissolved in water where it naturally absorbs heat. That heat is then released into the atmosphere. After an electric charge is applied, the coating switches to heating mode. In this mode, the copper becomes solid and prevents heat loss. AND, the color changes too, from dark white to copper.

The coating can easily be applied to existing buildings and requires minimal energy. The team hopes it can be a cheap and environmentally friendly way to insulate buildings. 

Save cash and go green! With color-changing buildings!  


Sui, C., Pu, J., Chen, T.-H., Liang, J., Lai, Y.-T., Rao, Y., Wu, R., Han, Y., Wang, K., Li, X., Viswanathan, V., & Hsu, P.-C. (2023). Dynamic electrochromism for all-season radiative thermoregulation. Nature Sustainability.