Marine Science in the News: Engineers create programmable morphing skin


One of the most impressive masters of camouflage is the octopus. In the blink of an eye, these skillful cephalopods can change color and texture to blend in with their surroundings or to startle or warn potential predators. Octopus ability to morph their skin has inspired engineers at Cornell University to develop a synthetic “camouflaging skin” that has a range of potential applications.


The team of engineers collaborated with expert cephalopod biologist Roger Hanlon of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, MA. They investigated octopus muscular morphology for controlling their dynamic camouflage, modeled the design, and developed 2D synthetic tissue that can be programmed and controlled into 3D shapes. Their 2D stretchable fiber mesh material transforms from flat sheets to 3D textures that imitate natural stone and plant shapes and camouflage into their surroundings.


Check out the synthetic skin in action below:



This development is an example of bio-inspired engineering. Bio-inspired engineering examines ways in which the structures and functions of living organisms inspire new forms and technology. In this case the team of engineers examined octopus papillae, or sections of skin that can be deformed in order to change texture. The papillae are muscular structures that do not contain skeletal support (such as the human tongue). While camouflaging, each papilla morphs from a flat 2D surface into a series of shapes until it reaches its final shape in the grand total of one fifth of a second!


To read an informative summary of the study, click this link to access the ScienceDaily article.


Journal reference:

Pikul, J.H., S. Li, H. Bai, R.T. Hanlon, I. Cohen and R.F. Shepherd. 2017. Stretchable surfaces with programmable 3D texture morphing for synthetic camouflaging skins.Science, 358(6360): 210-214. DOI:10.1126/science.aan5627.


Tags: bioinspiration octopus camouflage engineering cephalopods

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags
Follow Us

Subscribe for Updates

ADDRESS

500 Discovery Parkway

Redwood City, CA 94063

info@sfbaymsi.org

Tel: 650-364-2760

Click here for directions

facebook fish logo.png
instagram.png
Twitter fish logo.png
linkin.png

Marine Science Institute is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) not for profit organization. Federal Tax ID# 94-1719649

© 2020 All Rights Reserved  

Inspiring respect and stewardship for the marine environment through experiential learning

Thank you to our generous supporters who donated more than $25,000
kabcenell_logo
westpoint harbor
noaa1
Bohannon Foundation
Morgan Fam Fdn
HSF_logo_horiz_RGB_large crop 4
lesherlogo
JVLF Logo