Image credit: MIT
By Fiona MacDonald
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Duke University in the US have developed a stretchy, skin-like synthetic material that takes us a step closer to invisbility-cloak-like camouflage.
The material was inspired by cephalopods, the class of animals containing the very-well-camouflaged octopuses, squids and cuttlefish. These amazing sea creatures change texture, pattern and colour in milliseconds in response to new backdrops, thanks to tiny pigment sacks inside their skin. By expanding or contracting their muscles, they can control how much light bounces off these pigments and change their colours.
The new material acts in a similar way, as Sarah Zhang explains for Gizmodo. The polymer has dyes embedded in it, and when voltage is applied to the material it causes the polymer to crease up, changing its texture and colour. This means it can immediately become fluorescent red or bumpy, and even change its pattern, as shown in the images above. The researchers explain in an MIT press release that there’s no reason the range of colours couldn’t be increased – but for now they have still only managed to produce one type of pattern. Their results are published in Nature Communications.
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