Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Techy Tuesday - Paramagnetic Paint

About a week ago, I was looking up paramagnetism.  That probably sounds strange enough that I don't need to say more.  In contrast to ferromagnetism, which is the most familiar kind of magnetism, paramagnetism is a weak property of almost all elements.  If you've never been exposed to this concept before: since electromagnetism says that moving electric charges create magnetic fields, and all atoms have electrons moving around in them, you might think that everything is magnetic and you'd be right.  The differences are in how those properties manifest themselves at the macroscopic level depending on the atomic structure of the material.  Some materials are weakly repelled by a magnetic field; these are diamagnetic materials.  The materials with many free electrons that move in a sea from atom to atom, like iron and its alloys, show the highest magnetic attraction - ferromagnetism.  

All of which is a detour from the real story.  While looking up paramagnetism, I stumbled across the term Paramagnetic Paint as an autocomplete term in Bing, and started down the Inter-tubes.  I immediately found a couple of videos on the Tube, but was also drowned in claims that it was all fake, done in computers.  My confusion was that mixed in among the links to Snopes proclaiming it fake, or the videos, were occasional links to other sites claiming to be objective, Science!-y sites who said it's possible.  Car enthusiast sites gushing over not having to choose your car's color when you buy it.  Farther down the list is a company who claims to make and sell paramagnetic paint.  Hmm. 
We received many question about paramagnetic paint and basically the questions where about if I could explain how the procedure it and how to paint 6 colors on a panel and then make it change colors.

Mind you, paramagnetic paint is within constantly R&D as there are many new improved emerging materials available such as Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)-poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS), Graphene, new nano materials or combinations thereof.

You could do it with using 2 or 3 sets of the sandwiched layers as they are opaque and shine true [ed. note: through?] each-other. So first is conductive layer – dielectric layer – EL layer (green) – conductive layer – protection layer – and you repeat the structure. Conductive layer – dielectric layer – EL layer (red) – conductive layer – protection layer – conductive layer – dielectric layer – EL layer (blue) – conductive layer – protection layer.

Mind you you have to spray as conformal coating just very thin – 2 or 3 mills

From here you can energize the layers 1 – 2 – 3 or simultaneously 2 -3 or simultaneously 1 -2 or 1 -3 as multilayer will provide together a new color.
The way they describe it, it's a modification of electroluminescent paint, which is a real product.  Darkside Scientific, makers of the Lumilor EL paints, did a Tesla Model S up as a demo - this video was released on 9/11, since I started looking into this:

These paints are already starting to show up in real products, although they're just getting to production with them.  As for the paramagnetic paints, my guess is that the videos we're seeing of finished cars probably are fake, but the technology is for real in development labs and will probably be showing up on cars and more things soon. 

The future is sure looking like a pretty interesting place.


  1. Except that they need to take a look at a few Syd Mead paintings to figure out how to actually make it look appealing.

  2. Sir,
    The future is always interesting only more expensive than we expect....