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Color-tunable sunglasses

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2:56pm, April 10, 2007

From Chicago, at the American Chemical Society Meeting

Some people want their sunglasses dark green. Others prefer brown or deep-blue shades. Engineers have developed a way to change eyewear lenses from blue back to clear—at the flip of a switch. Future glasses may switch among any of a series of colors.

The changeable shades rely on novel polymer films sandwiched between layers of glass. Depressing a switch on the frames sends a tiny current from a watch battery to the polymer in each lens. Applying the current once turns this electrochromic polymer a dark color. Hit the switch again and the color goes away. Once the film becomes transparent or assumes a color, it needs no further power to stay that way—at least for 30 days.

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