- Scientists have found a way to develop a synthetic “camouflaging skin” inspired by studying and modelling the real thing in octopus and cuttlefish.
- For the octopus and cuttlefish, instantaneously changing their skin colour and pattern to disappear into the environment is just part of their camouflage prowess.
- These animals can also swiftly and reversibly morph their skin into a textured, 3D surface, giving the animal a ragged outline that mimics seaweed, coral, or other objects it detects and uses for camouflage.
- In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers reported development of synthetic tissue groupings that allow programmable, 2D stretchable materials to both extend and retract a range of target 3D shapes.
- The team’s pneumatically-activated material takes a cue from the 3D bumps, or papillae, that cephalopods such as such as octopus and cuttlefish can express in one-fifth of a second for dynamic camouflage, and then retract to swim away.
- Papillae are examples of a muscular hydrostat, biological structures that consist of muscle with no skeletal support (such as the human tongue).
- This is a classic example of bio-inspired engineering.
- For example, the material could be controllably morphed to reflect light in its 2D spaces and absorb light in its 3D shapes.