The intelligence of colors

Bringing intelligence to the color of a coating

At OliKrom, we have deliberately combined the words “intelligence” and “colors” to define our unique expertise in modulating the optical response of materials on demand. This breakthrough innovation is the result of more than 15 years of fundamental and applied research in materials science and phase transition phenomena.


1st step: adapt the material according to an external disturbance and a desired threshold

We control the material and its property according to an energy (temperature, light, pressure, gas…) and a desired threshold (wide range of temperatures, light intensity, sensitivity, pressure threshold…). We also adjust the reversible/irreversible character, the speed of photo-commutation, the choice of colors etc.

Thus, the material reacts in response to natural or provoked stimuli coming from outside or inside: variations of temperature, luminosity, mechanical constraints, gas atmosphere, ionic polarity…

2nd step: change the color in the right optical frequency

We modulate the material to obtain a programmed triggering of the color change in the chosen optical frequency (ultraviolet, visible, infrared) according to the target (human eye, device, animal eye).
In this way, we create a controlled custom interaction between the “transmitter” coating and the intended “receiver” (eye or sensor).

Result: we obtain an intelligent material with a new function

The material is programmed in a tailor-made way according to the stated industrial need: amplify (or on the contrary camouflage) the aspect of a product, substitute certain components, raise or amplify a warning signal, of good use, create an anti-counterfeiting security key etc. 

As an illustration, by using a thermochromic material programmed to be interpreted by the human eye, the coating of an engine becomes capable of changing color as soon as a certain temperature is reached to alert an operator of a risk of overheating.

Once created and parameterized by our teams, these innovative materials are capable of spontaneously modifying their physical properties in total autonomy.

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Create an interaction with the materials that surround us

Depending on the industrial need (visual detection by a human being and/or a device and/or an animal), we adapt the optical response of the materials to create a tailor-made visual dialogue.

Visual detection by the human eye

The ability of a human being to distinguish a color or a luminosity varies according to his age and the light intensity emitted by his immediate environment. For our teams, this implies modulating the optical response of materials according to the predominant process: scotopic vision (night vision), mesopic vision (twilight vision), photopic vision (day vision) or glare effect. We adjust the photochemical cascade of the pigment(s), the quantum yield, the excitation and emission wavelengths, the luminescence/phosphorescence processes involved. 

Signal processing can be used to detect a color change for industrial safety purposes. In this context, our teams calibrate the optical modulation of the material to respond to the desired energy source: temperature, light, pressure, etc. Signal processing is carried out at the molecular level to control the switching properties: reversibility (or irreversibility), memory effect, energy threshold, choice of colors, etc. 

As an example, by using a thermochromic pigment, the coating of a motor can become capable of changing color as soon as a certain temperature is reached to alert an operator of a risk of burning.

Other needs concern the perception of an object or a product according to the light intensity emitted by its environment. The stakes (and the uses) are multiple: to reinforce visibility at night (road safety, sea rescue…), or to modify the perception during the day to enhance a color (aestheticism, luxury, cosmetics, watchmaking…).

Visual detection by a device


The richness of our technological bricks offers multiple opportunities to create an optical modulation detectable by a machine, a sensor, a robot, a camera, a drone, a satellite…

To provide information and create this optical material-machine interaction, our scientific engineers program the optical response of the material. This involves real information processing on a molecular scale to select the right effect, the right absorption and/or emission wavelength, the sensitivity of the detection thresholds, the triggering speed, not forgetting all the business constraints inherent to the targeted sector of activity.

This is a rapidly expanding field of application. Our researchers are involved in many innovative projects associated with Industry 4.0, predictive maintenance, production process automation, future mobility…

For example, OliKrom has been selected by GRTgaz to develop a breakthrough technology in the field of gas leak monitoring by drone.

Visual detection by the animal eye

The possibilities in this scientific sector are numerous. They have the common goal of creating an interaction with the animal kingdom, where each species has its own particularities. The cat, for example, has excellent vision that allows it to perceive ultraviolet light. Other species are short-sighted but sensitive to light.

This is a challenge that our research and development teams have taken up. This requires us to parameterize the chemical composition of intelligent materials to modulate the optical response according to the stimulus and the targeted species.

The intelligence of colors: a unique expertise


Over the years, OliKrom has developed unique expertise in color intelligence. Our teams (researchers, doctors, engineers…) master these processes, from the scale of the intelligent pigment to the finished product in the form of ink or paint produced on an industrial scale.

Like an electronic engineer, we parameterize and program the material. We have full control over the material, we control it and adapt it to the industrial need. The choice of components, alloys, systems or structures involved in the switching process allows us to adjust the memory effect or the fatigability phenomenon to anticipate and signal the wear of an object.

Our 15 years of experience in materials science have led us to accompany many companies in all industrial sectors in the development of innovative solutions: defense, transportation, heavy industry, medical, cosmetics, food, space, construction…

Some examples of applications


  • Indicator of exceeding a temperature threshold: industrial pipes/pipes, thermal mapping.
  • Signage: visual aid for ice detection.
  • Health-material” indicator: effort gauge, shock detection (Aeronautics, Nautics).
  • Control: witness of conservation of sensitive products in a specific temperature range, cold chain, transport of medical products & vaccines or blood.
  • Sterilization indicator: labels or inks.
  • Glues: indicator of adhesion, optimal drying.
  • Food packaging: indicator of product consumption temperature.

Traceability / Anti-counterfeiting

  • Irreversible overheating indicator for industrial processes.
  • Security inks: offset ink for ticketing, games, secure access badges.
  • Anti-counterfeiting indicator: branded products, banknotes.

Decoration / Marketing / Advertising

  • Plastics & toys: color-changing decor, labels, packaging, promotional objects, “dynamic” advertising inserts.
  • Cosmetics: cosmetic or perfumery bottles.
  • Intelligent textiles: comfort indicator, lightening of a textile with heat…

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