Smart Materials

Materials that act as sensors in the presence of external signals

Development of smart materials for companies

Smart materials can modify their properties reversibly through an external stimulus. External stimuli are for example light, heat, humidity, electric fields, force, pH and some chemical compounds. These materials can have properties with a great projection of the future such as self-healing materials.

These materials can be identified as sensors, actuators or controllers as they react to the stimuli generating a useful response such as a color change with which the user can identify that something has changed.

In ATRIA we develop solutions based on smart materials from the stage of synthesis until its implementation in product.

What do we do in smart materials?

Technology selection

Studying the requirements of our customer, we select the technology that best suits your needs. We work with the main chemical and material development companies, selecting the most appropriate for each Project.

Materials development

If there is no solution in the market, ATRIA develops its own solutions in its Materials laboratory.


In our Materials laboratory, we can apply through various techniques such as dip-coating, spray, roll-to-roll … the solution selected in your product. It is a critical stage.

Tests and trials

All materials, whether they are own development or existing solutions, must be tested to verify that their functionality is as expected and that it meets all customer requirements. Smart materials need specific tests, in case the test does not exist, we will develop it for you.

How do we select in ATRIA a smart material?

Final effect that you want to obtain

First you must define what parameter you want to control and the effect that its modification must produce. The more precise and limited the requirements, the lower the costs of the research of the next stages.

Smart material selection

It is selected a family of smart materials that fit the requirements. It is also taken into account the final application where these materials are used.

Analysis of economic and regulatory viability

A study of the economic benefit that the smart material provides will give us useful information to be able to estimate the acceptable cost for each product or process. In addition, it is very important to verify that the regulations will allow us to use them in the desired sector.

Functional feasibility analysis and life tests

Defined the ranges in which the stimulus must produce a change in the material, it is verified that the selected material works and that it also does so in the real conditions of use of the product or process.


Hydrochromic materials change color in contact with water. Depending on their properties, they can turn transparent or change their color when they get wet. They can be integrated into fabric, clothing and paper. They are applied in various sectors such as security, advertising, toys, waterproof products …


Thermochromic materials change color depending on the temperature. The color change occurs at a turning temperature that is determined by the type of material, and can be modified and controlled. Its functions are: temperature control, warning of defects and aesthetics.

Don’t miss our work with Nescafé in this area!


Photoluminescent materials emit light radiation after being subjected to external stimulation. For example, if their surface is subjected to UV radiation, they can emit on the visible creating very interesting effects. It is used in various cases such as: security, aesthetic effects on posters, stickers, samples …


Graphene can improve properties such as hardness, resistance, thermal and electrical conductivity, elasticity, flexibility among others. It is a material with exceptional properties.


The materials with memory, such as piezoelectric or self-repairing, are those that recover a pre-established morphology with stimuli such as temperature, water, chemicals or electromagnetic field.


Photochromic materials change color reversibly. When the light falls on the material, a color appears, going from a whitish or transparent color to an intense one.

What can we obtain with smart materials?

New aesthetics and designs

Through materials that modify their color with an external stimulus, new aesthetic effects can be provided to products . They also offer self-repairable products that eliminate aesthetic damage, such as bumps or abrasions, on a surface. Smart materials can provide the concept of flexible aesthetics.


Before the appearance of a certain stimulus considered dangerous for a product, the material can change aesthetically in an appreciable way so that it is possible to quickly identify the situation and act accordingly. This is the case of an electrochromic material that modifies its color in a dangerous current for the user, delimiting evacuation routes, danger areas, tools, work areas or accident prevention.

WOW effect

These materials have applicability in sectors such as advertising. With the application of different stimuli you can achieve the appearance for example of a logo or an image that is not visible to the naked eye, changing colors …

New features

A very clear example are smart fabrics. In this way we can have a pulse counter directly on the clothes or even monitor the body temperature of a baby. Changes in color, conductivity or shape can indicate the user how to use a product or signal and identify the ways of using it.

Quality and performance evaluation

To ensure that the use of a product is carried out in its optimum condition,  or that it has not suffered any damage or loss in its quality, thermochromic, hydrochromic or electrochromic markers can be used to report the quality of the product. Also, in the case of machines or equipment, they can indicate that they work according to their normal parameters.

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