The Science Behind Color-Changing Paint

It sounds like something out of an action thriller—a thief steals a million-dollar something, jumps into a bright red, high-end sports car waiting outside and takes off. The police tear after the seemingly conspicuous automobile, but suddenly it’s nowhere to be seen—the thief has changed the paint color! 

Color-changing paint may sound futuristic, but believe it or not, the technology is already here.

Beyond Heat and Duo-chrome

There are two basic methods of achieving a color-changing effect:

  • Duo-chrome

Duo-chrome works by reflecting light. What color you see depends on the angle at which the light hits and reflected off the pigments.

  • Heat-sensitive

Thermochromic, or heat-sensitive, paint changes color based the temperature of an area (think mood rings from the 70s and 80s).

While these color-changing technologies are available, today’s color-changing paint is even more sophisticated.

The Technology of Modern Color-Changing Paint

Like duo-chrome, the technology behind today’s color-changing paint is based on the way light is reflected and the way our eyes perceive color. Unlike duo-chrome, however, today’s color-changing paint works by using magnetic pulses to adjust the crystals within the paint.

Tiny crystals that make up part of the paint’s chemical structure are mixed in with the basic paint color, creating an inductive topcoat. Using the principle of electroluminescence, a signal from the driver sends an electrical current into the topcoat. The electromagnetic current manipulates the crystals into an order that changes the way the light is reflected and refracted so that your eyes perceived a new color.

Unlike duo-chrome and thermochromic paint that have a limited range of color changes, today’s color-changing paint can cover the full spectrum. It can change from blues to reds to purples to oranges and yellows and greens (and back again).  

Color-changing paint introduces new difficulties for the auto body repair industry. Painting a traditional car is challenging enough. Covering a vehicle with an electroluminescent topcoat requires specially calibrated devices to analyze the paint itself as well as ensure the non-changing color is correct after it cures. Although the science is here, the money to get color-changing paint for your car may not be. Color-changing paint is very expensive. However, if you’ve got the bankroll, we’ve got the skill. ContactQuanz Auto Care for a free estimate.