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Smart Coating to Reflect Lasers and Dissipate Their Energy

Technology #17046

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Peng Jiang
Ruochen Liu
Rao Fei
Wei Zhang
Sin-Yen Leo
Managed By
Lenny Terry
Assistant Director 352-392-8929

Responds Automatically and Transforms to Reflect Laser Illumination

This surface coating uses a graphene-oxide-reinforced shape memory polymer that changes color in response to laser beam. The early detection of a laser beams is desirable to prevent damage to military equipment, such as drones, that can lose functionality from laser beam illumination. Available technologies use multilayer dielectric mirrors or expensive metamaterial-based coatings. Both the U.S. military and commercial flight industries could benefit from a material that is free from electric current and can be coated onto large areas.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a smart coating that automatically responds to a broadband of laser illumination, from ultraviolet to near-infrared. Once triggered, the coating transforms into a highly-reflective state that reflects back most of the laser power. The shape-memory properties of this new type of smart coating enable the material to remember the laser’s trajectory, generate patterns and make it reusable.


A coating for application to large-scale surfaces that transforms into a highly-reflective state, after triggering from laser beam illumination, to reflect back the damaging laser beam


  • Coats large surfaces such as military drones, tanks, ships, and aircraft, providing on-demand protection from damaging laser weapons
  • Forms photonic crystal layers, making fabrication less expensive than existing coating materials
  • Remembers the laser beam trajectory, generating patterns that can be reused to deflect laser beam illumination


This smart coating comprises a synthesized black graphene oxide-shaped memory polymer nanocomposite. Self-assembled silica particles attach to a glass microslide and arrange into a sandwich-like structure. A viscous oligomer mixture, consisting of a shape memory polymer, graphene oxide and photoinitiator fills the space inside the sandwich structure and goes through polymerization by exposure to UV light. The newly formed membrane detaches from the microslide and soaks in an acidic aqueous solution, removing the silica particle layer and creating a porous structure.Deionized water and ethanol rinse the final product and leave it with a greenish diffractive color. This reconfigurable photonic crystal coating activates from laser beam illumination at multiple wavelengths, dissipates their energy, and returns to its original color by cold programming. This feature allows the technology to serve as a defensive and protective application for military weaponry against laser beams light.

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