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Dr Ian Gent

Dr Ian Gent

Dr Ian Gent
MChem, PhD

Research Associate

Area of research

Biologically Inspired Adaptive Camouflage: Polyphenism-Colour Changing Smart Materials

Office ACCIS Office, Queens Building
Queen's Building,
University Walk, Clifton BS8 1TR
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+44 (0) 117 33 15763


Camouflage technology has been an active area of research and development since the beginning of the ’industrialised’ war. In this continually evolving field, the ability to mimic the surroundings not only greatly increases the safety of operational personnel, but can also provide a significant tactical advantage. However, theatres of war are rarely homogeneous. The British Army is now deploying Multi Terrain Pattern (MTP) in recognition that Helmand Province presents a range of operational terrains, with traditional woodland and desert variants of Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) only being effective in different subsets. There is an alternative to the current compromises in camouflage systems: adaptive camouflage. The challenge for any current camouflage system is to defeat not only the human eye, but also the on‑going technological advances in automated target recognition systems.


There is a growing need in engineering research and industry for structures and mechanisms that exhibit properties beyond conventional mechanical consideration, which this project seeks to address by considering the application of engineering materials to camouflage. Several examples found in nature of adaptive camouflage exist; these range from the slow, monochromic colour change of the Pacific Tree Frog, to the fast and dramatic transitions of the cephalopods.


This project aims to assess the feasibility of a biologically inspired polyphenic-colour changing smart material, focussed at the single unit-cell level. The goal of this PhD study is to investigate the applicable natural camouflage systems, develop relevant colour shifting chemistry in soft materials and incorporate the resulting material into a lab scale demonstrator.

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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