Tent which adjusts to the light could be on the horizon

A tent that reacts to differing light levels could become a reality thanks to US scientists, theengineer.co.uk reports.

Researchers from Harvard's Wyss Institute have created a new material that can change between two states when stretched, which alters both its texture and transparency.

Whilst originally said to be able to halt liquids on demand, it is also thought the material could be used by campers to adjust the amount of light which permeates the canvas. It could mean that on bright days or when pitched under a artificial light, campers can lessen the brightness, whilst on overcast days more light can get through.

The material was inspired by tears which - when grouped together - form a membrane-like seal over the eye. To replicate this, developers created a thin, film-like material which contained within it minuscule pores. Once the film is then infused with liquid, it can operate in two different ways.

Firstly, when relaxed, the material is smooth, meaning fluid spilled on top of it will run straight off. When pulled taut, however, the liquid infused within the membrane fills in the micro-pores and creates a rougher material. This roughness can then be used to "catch" liquid and stop it from moving. Researchers also found that this method impacts the membrane's opacity, which could make it useful for campers.

Speaking to bbc.co.uk of the project, developer Joanna Aizenberg explained: "The new material is a liquid-infused elastic porous surface, which is what allows for the fine control over so many adaptive responses above and beyond its ability to repel a wide range of substances.

"A whole range of surface properties can now be tuned, or switched on and off on demand."