The Technology

The visible colour change on the Chameleon Case originates from within the very molecular structures of the liquid crystals inside the colour-changing material itself. The chemistry behind The Chameleon Case is extraordinarily complex.

The liquid crystals used within the Case exist within four distinct ‘phases’ or states of matter – two of which are unique - exhibiting extraordinary optical properties. For the sake of simplicity we will focus primarily on only one of these four ‘phases’ – chiral ‘nematic’. The molecules used in The Chameleon Case are chiral. This means that they lack inversion symmetry – not dissimilar to your hands.

The mirror image of the molecule will not fit on top of the original molecule, this means that different molecule layers arrange themselves at angles to the previous layer - creating a helix, like a spiral staircase. In each ‘step’ of the staircase, the molecules are orientated towards just one director, but there is a finite angle between each ‘step’ and the next.

The pitch refers to the distance over which the stacked liquid crystal layers undergo a full 360* twist.

As the temperature of the liquid crystal changes – when you touch, rub or cool the case – the crystalline structures, between layers, rearrange. In order to do so, the chemical bonds between molecules tighten, loosen, break or reform. The net effect of the change in temperature on the structure of our crystalline helices is to change the length of the pitch, which leads to the tightening or loosening of the helix.

What does this mean in terms of colour change?

When light strikes the liquid crystal, some of the light hits the helices and is reflected. The colour that our eyes see consists of all the reflected light from a surface blended together. The colour (ie the wavelength) of the reflected light depends on how tightly twisted the helix is – it’s pitch.

If the pitch of the liquid crystal is of the same length as the pitch –ie wavelength- of visible light wave (from 400-700nm) then that specific colour light will be emitted. An increase in temperature leads to a decrease in the pitch.

When the helix is tightly twisted the pitch is smaller, so it reflects smaller wavelengths (blue end of the spectrum) when the helix is less twisted the pitch is smaller, so it reflects larger wavelengths (red end of the spectrum).

The background colour, when the crystals are either too cold or too hot to emit visible light, is black. This ensures that all other wavelengths of incident light are absorbed - only one wavelength is reflected. This property enables the colour changes to be as vivid and stark as possible.

The Case

The crystals have been specifically designed so that colour changes within the semi-liquid states can be observed at the optimal temperature for use as an iPhone case. In the design process, we have taken into account the heat emitted from the processor itself while making responsiveness on touch our top priority.

The case itself has been carefully designed to contain a thermally insulating woven fabric layer. This ensures that the colour changing crystals remain as insulated as possible from the ambient heat emitted from the iPhone. Often, in ambient room temperature, the crystals will be on the brink of colour change – all it needs is one touch and the crystals will instantly change colour.

We feel that we have achieved the ultimate compromise with The Chameleon Case – between size (level of insulation), responsiveness and active temperature range. That being said, inevitably, results will vary in different ambient temperatures. If you have any queries or feedback, feel free to contact us.