Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Artificial muscle: Squid and zebrafish cells inspire camouflaging smart materials

Date:
May 2, 2012
Source:
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Summary:
Researchers have created artificial muscles that can be transformed at the flick of a switch to mimic the remarkable camouflaging abilities of organisms such as squid and zebrafish. They demonstrated two individual transforming mechanisms that they believe could be used in ‘smart clothing’ to trigger camouflaging tricks similar to those seen in nature.

Artificial muscle that can camouflage like squid or zebrafish.
Credit: Image courtesy of Institute of Physics (IOP)

Researchers from the University of Bristol have created artificial muscles that can be transformed at the flick of a switch to mimic the remarkable camouflaging abilities of organisms such as squid and zebrafish.

Related Articles


They demonstrate two individual transforming mechanisms that they believe could be used in 'smart clothing' to trigger camouflaging tricks similar to those seen in nature.

The study is published May 2, in IOP Publishing's journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, and is accompanied by a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2CgtJU3ckY) showing the camouflaging in action.

"We have taken inspiration from nature's designs and exploited the same methods to turn our artificial muscles into striking visual effects," said lead author of the study Jonathan Rossiter.

The soft, stretchy, artificial muscles are based on specialist cells called chromatophores that are found in amphibians, fish, reptiles and cephalopods, and contain pigments of colours that are responsible for the animals' remarkable colour-changing effects.

The colour changes in these organisms can be triggered by changes in mood, temperature, stress or something visible in the environment, and can be used for camouflage, communication or attracting a mate.

Two types of artificial chromatophores were created in the study: the first based on a mechanism adopted by a squid and the second based on a rather different mechanism adopted by zebrafish.

A typical colour-changing cell in a squid has a central sac containing granules of pigment. The sac is surrounded by a series of muscles and when the cell is ready to change colour, the brain sends a signal to the muscles and they contract. The contracting muscles make the central sacs expand, generating the optical effect which makes the squid look like it is changing colour.

The fast expansion of these muscles was mimicked using dielectric elastomers (DEs) -- smart materials, usually made of a polymer, which are connected to an electric circuit and expand when a voltage is applied. They return to their original shape when they are short circuited.

In contrast, the cells in the zebrafish contain a small reservoir of black pigmented fluid that, when activated, travels to the skin surface and spreads out, much like the spilling of black ink. The natural dark spots on the surface of the zebrafish therefore appear to get bigger and the desired optical effect is achieved. The changes are usually driven by hormones.

The zebrafish cells were mimicked using two glass microscope slides sandwiching a silicone layer. Two pumps, made from flexible DEs, were positioned on both sides of the slide and were connected to the central system with silicone tubes; one pumping opaque white spirit, the other a mixture of black ink and water.

"Our artificial chromatophores are both scalable and adaptable and can be made into an artificial compliant skin which can stretch and deform, yet still operate effectively. This means they can be used in many environments where conventional 'hard' technologies would be dangerous, for example at the physical interface with humans, such as smart clothing," continued Rossiter.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics (IOP). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonathan Rossiter, Bryan Yap, Andrew Conn. Biomimetic chromatophores for camouflage and soft active surfaces. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 2012; 7 (3): 036009 DOI: 10.1088/1748-3182/7/3/036009

Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics (IOP). "Artificial muscle: Squid and zebrafish cells inspire camouflaging smart materials." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120502091936.htm>.
Institute of Physics (IOP). (2012, May 2). Artificial muscle: Squid and zebrafish cells inspire camouflaging smart materials. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120502091936.htm
Institute of Physics (IOP). "Artificial muscle: Squid and zebrafish cells inspire camouflaging smart materials." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120502091936.htm (accessed February 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Elon Musk's Hyperloop Moves Forward

Elon Musk's Hyperloop Moves Forward

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) Zipping around at 800-miles an hour is coming closer to reality in California. An entire town is being built around Elon Musk&apos;s Hyperloop concept and it wants you to stop in for a ride when it&apos;s ready. Brett Larson is on board. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vibrating Bicycle Senses Traffic

Vibrating Bicycle Senses Traffic

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Feb. 26, 2015) Dutch scientists have developed a smart bicycle that uses sensors, wireless technology and video to warn riders of traffic dangers. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Japan, Robot Dogs Are for Life -- And Death

In Japan, Robot Dogs Are for Life -- And Death

AFP (Feb. 25, 2015) Robot dogs are the perfect pet for some in Japan who go to repairmen-turned-vets when their pooch breaks down - while a full Buddhist funeral ceremony awaits those who don&apos;t make it. Duration: 02:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
London Show Dissects History of Forensic Science

London Show Dissects History of Forensic Science

AFP (Feb. 25, 2015) Forensic science, which has fascinated generations with its unravelling of gruesome crime mysteries, is being put under the microscope in an exhibition of real criminal investigations in London. Duration: 00:53 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins