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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

A Stretchable, Light-Up Surface Inspired by Squid Skin

• Wired.com

It's a technology that could some day be used to make fold-up light sources, on-demand camouflage, or possibly even the Tron jumpsuit you've always wanted.

The engineers of the film were inspired by the skin of octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, which can change color using tiny, ring-shaped structures called chromatophores. Each chromatophore is pigment-filled and ringed with tiny muscles. By contracting or expanding the chromatophores in different patterns, the cephalopods can create dazzling displays, or camouflage themselves from sight.

The new soft, stretchable elastomer is chemically combined with artificial, fluorescent-color versions of chromatophores, called mechanophores. Electrical pulses activate the mechanophores and create flourescant patterns. Different pulse strengths change the colors, and once the pulse is shut off the pattern instantly clears.

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