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Simulated Octopus Skin

March 17, 2016

Scientists are isolating and synthesizing the chemical compounds that make hops bitter, and studying their medicinal properties.



Eight arms of inspiration. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to the octopus, that’s easier said than done. Up for the challenge, Cornell mechanical engineer Chris Larson designed flexible artificial skin that functions like that of the limber cephalopods – by stretching, responding to touch, and lighting up.  

CHRIS LARSON (Cornell University):

They change their shape in almost every which way imaginable. And their skin can change its appearance to do things like camouflage. We can basically overlay an electronic skin over the surface of synthetic actuators and give them the ability to undergo these deformations, but also actively emit light to change appearance similar to the octopus.


Larson reports in Science magazine that these flexible electronics could be used in ultrathin alternatives to smart watches, or softer and safer factory robots. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.