GAINESVILLE, Fla., Mar. 21 --- Researchers at the University of Florida and a North Carolina institute have developed a device with a surface that converts from transparent to opaque so rapidly that it could potentially shield the human eye or electronic sensors from laser damage. While the artificial eyelid was designed primarily for military applications, it could enable such consumer uses as programmable sunglasses and faster cameras, according to Paul Holloway, a professor of materials science and engineering at the university and one of the researchers on the project.Holloway and his colleagues at the university's College of Engineering and the non-profit North Carolina-based technology institute have successfully demonstrated prototypes of the device, which uses tiny polymer and electrode films to control light transmission. A product of nanotechnology, the eyelid is intended to protect military pilots and equipment from disabling laser attacks. The university's department of materials science and engineering conducted research on the project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Army Research Office.