Nature Inspires Researchers to Create Camouflage-like Material
Camouflaging feature of octopus and cuttlefish inspired researchers to design and create a material that also has this changing color feature.
Researchers studied the skin of cephalopods, class of animals having octopus and cuttlefish. Their skin has three layers. First layer has pigments that handle the appearance of the animals. Second layer has muscles that change as per the orientation of the pigment-containing cells and changes color. The last layer is the one that senses the color of its surroundings.
After carefully studying these layers, researchers designed the material having camouflaging properties. They used electrodes in the bottom layer, which will also perform the function of sensing the background color, black or white.
Information of the background color is then passed on to middle layer, which comprises of actuators. Its main function is to initiate heating when background is white or when sheet is illuminated. The first layer has black pigments that turn transparent under heat.
The material will start heating if the sheet is illuminated with white light and if it is dark then it will remain black. John Rogers, one of the researchers, said the material is not completely ready for camouflaging.
But, the research team has achieved its goal to know how camouflaging activity takes place. Rogers said for now the material can change two colors: black and white. They are working on the material so that it can turn into differnet colors. "Overall, this is an impressive demonstration of pattern recognition and color camouflaging", stated Michael McAlpine, a researcher at Princeton University who was not involved in the study.
The team has discussed the study results after three years of extensive research on the topic. The finding indeed is truly remarkable, but needs more time before it gets formally used like in military operations.
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