New Camouflage Skin Inspired by Squid

A great example of biomimicry, scientists at the University of Bristol in the UK are developing a new type of smart material inspired the camouflaging capability of squid skin.

The skin of a squid contains smalls embedded pigment cells that expand and contract, changing the skin’s colour and texture in response to environmental surroundings.  University of Bristol researchers have been able to mimic this phenomenon with an artificial version of squid skin made from electroactive dielectric elastomer – a soft, rubbery polymer that can be manipulated by pulses of electricity. This smart material effectively copies the performance of real squid pigment cells, responding to stimuli in the environment.

“Our ultimate goal is to create artificial skin that can mimic fast acting active camouflage and be used for smart clothing such as cloaking suits and dynamic illuminated clothing,” lead researcher Aaron Fishman, a visiting fellow at Bristol, said. “The cloaking suit could be used to blend into a variety of environments, such as in the wild,” he continues, “It could also be used for signalling purposes, for example search and rescue operations when people who are in danger need to stand out.”

The researchers hope to further develop this smart material so that is is more dynamic and able produce a diversity of patterns.

More information here can be found in their paper ‘Hiding the squid: Patterns in Artificial Cephalodpod Skin’ in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.