Scientists have made significant progress in camouflage technology by developing octopus-inspired systems for deception and signaling. These systems, which allow for dynamic modulation of color and appearance, have potential applications in various fields.
This small cephalopod, known for its poisonous nature, possesses the unique ability to alter its appearance, serving as a form of communication and defense. The octopus displays distinct blue rings to warn potential predators of its venomous nature.
To replicate the octopus’s characteristics, the researchers used a stable nonacene-like molecule called tetrabenzononacene (TBN). This molecule, which exhibits low bandgap absorbance in the red-to-near-infrared range, plays a critical role in the devices’ tunable spectroscopic and fluorescent properties. The researchers found that TBN demonstrated remarkable stability, outlasting benchmark molecules in harsh conditions.
The scientists incorporated TBN into a quad-layer dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) device to mimic the octopus’s color-changing ability. These devices can undergo significant and controlled deformations, allowing for the expansion of blue and brown regions. Notably, the DEA devices exhibit rapid response and maintain stability over an extensive cycle life.
One surprising aspect of the research was the devices’ self-repair mechanism. Even after failure, the devices can self-repair through the conversion of the nonacene-like molecule and/or elastomer into an insulating material. This self-repair ensures the devices can continue functioning without user intervention.
The TBN-based architectures demonstrated longevity and reliability, retaining their actuation-dependent appearances, surface topologies, and spectroscopic characteristics even after being stored for over two years. This highlights the devices’ ability to withstand challenging environmental conditions and positions them as promising candidates for deception and signaling platforms.
The researchers believe that these octopus-inspired devices have applications in camouflage, display technologies, anti-counterfeiting measures, sensing, imaging, energy conservation, and robotics. They aim to explore the scalability of these devices and expand their applications further.
The development of octopus-inspired systems for deception and signaling represents a significant breakthrough in camouflage technology. By mimicking the unique abilities of the blue-ringed octopus, scientists have created devices that can dynamically alter their appearance and effectively signal observers in the visible and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. These devices exhibit stability, rapid response, and self-repair capabilities, making them promising for a wide range of practical applications.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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