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Squid & Zebrafish Camouflage

May 31, 2012

Squid and zebrafish are models for new smart camouflage materials.



Smart camouflage.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Color-changing squid and zebrafish have inspired scientists to develop smart camouflage materials.  Engineers Jonathan Rossiter and Andrew Conn of the University of Bristol in England led the research.  Rossiter says they used artificial muscles to imitate the animals’ distinct camouflage techniques.  In the squid’s case, the color change comes from balloon-like sacs of pigment in the skin, which become more visible when stretched by surrounding muscles.

JONATHAN ROSSITER (UniversityofBristol):

So we can re-create that using our artificial muscles, which will pull open a sac, or a small region of black material, and make it larger.  And that of course creates a nice visual effect.

They’ve also imitated the zebrafish’s system, which involves liquid pigments that get pumped up to the skin’s surface.  The overall goal is to create smart, fast-acting camouflage that works in thin, soft material, like clothing or artificial skin.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Watch the video:

(Video credit: Institute of Physics)