How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 188

A while ago, there was a fad to have T-shirts that changed colors with changes in temperature. How did those shirts work?
Those shirts probably use a microencapsulated chemical system that is temperature sensitive. In this system, tiny chemical bubbles are incorporated in a plastic material that can be used to form toys or household objects or even the writing on T-shirts. Inside each bubble are several chemicals, one of which melts at a temperature very near room temperature. When that chemical melts, it begins to interfere with the other chemicals so that they lose their colors. That way, part of the object's color disappears when it warms up. The plastic contains other normal pigments so that it doesn't become colorless when warm, but it does become more lightly colored.

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