A new illuminating coating which can detect the impact of a bird striking an aircraft was unveiled last week by The Defence Evaluation and Defence Agency (Dera). Birdstrikes can be catastrophic for the carbon composite materials which cover modern military planes. Unlike metals, composites spring back to their original shape unmarked after a minor impact. Birdstrikes are thus harder to detect, but can still destroy up to 60% of the material’s strength. The new coating incorporates light-emitting triboluminescent crystals, which are activated in response to the increased friction caused by a birdstrike and indicate the spot where the collision took place. The technology could also have uses for makers of artificial limbs, sports equipment and yacht masts, Dera said.