PATTERN INNOVATION | OCTOPUS-INSPIRED CAMOUFLAGE
The patterns of nature frequently inspire innovations in man-made technology. A recent example is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s attempt to create a light-responsive camouflage material mimicking the skin of an octopus.
Using cells called chromatophores, cephalopods are able to alter their colour, luminosity, texture and pattern in response to changes in their environment. A layer of photosensitive skin cells can detect shifts in the light around them, allowing the animals to mimic the patterns of the ocean floor as they travel across it.
Inspired by the ability of nature to create and respond to pattern, a team of marine biologists and materials scientists has come together to create a flexible paper-thin sheet containing artificial chromatophores, which changes its pattern in response to ambient light and temperature. Currently, it is limited to producing ‘triangles, arrays of dots and random patterns’ in black and white, but the invention marks a first step towards materials that create patterns in response to those around them…