Cornell University researchers have been developing a new type of synthetic, camouflaging skin for the area of soft robotics whose primary source of inspiration was the skin of the octopus.
Octopi, cuttlefish, and squids, are cephalopods known, among others, for their ability to change shape and color.
Octopus Skin and Its Simple Method of Changing Shape
The study was led by Rob Shephard, part of the University’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. This research looked to determine how a flat surface could transform into a three-dimensional one, if necessary.
To do this, the scientists took a closer look at octopus skin, to see how this adapts to its environments.
“We were drawn by how successful cephalopods are at changing their skin texture, so we studied and drew inspiration from the muscles that allow cephalopods to control their texture, and implemented these ideas into a method for controlling the shape of soft, stretchable materials,” stated one of the study leads.
The resulting product is based on a rigid mesh base that was cut in a very specific way. Thanks to it, if attached to a stretchable material, the mesh can constrain it to form the particular, desired shape.
This was inspired by the papillae. The octopus skin has protuberances (the papillae) that extend over their body and get activated through contractions.
According to a statement from the research team, this new method was named Circumferentially Constrained and Radially Stretched Elastomer or CCOARSE.
The study team will now be looking to also try and make this new material have a changeable color, not just shape and texture. They will also be looking to create more precise shapes.
Details on the process and the resulting product are available in a paper in the journal Science.
Image Source: Flickr
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