Adaptive optoelectronic camouflage systems with designs inspired by cephalopod skins. Academic Article uri icon


  • Octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and other cephalopods exhibit exceptional capabilities for visually adapting to or differentiating from the coloration and texture of their surroundings, for the purpose of concealment, communication, predation, and reproduction. Long-standing interest in and emerging understanding of the underlying ultrastructure, physiological control, and photonic interactions has recently led to efforts in the construction of artificial systems that have key attributes found in the skins of these organisms. Despite several promising options in active materials for mimicking biological color tuning, existing routes to integrated systems do not include critical capabilities in distributed sensing and actuation. Research described here represents progress in this direction, demonstrated through the construction, experimental study, and computational modeling of materials, device elements, and integration schemes for cephalopod-inspired flexible sheets that can autonomously sense and adapt to the coloration of their surroundings. These systems combine high-performance, multiplexed arrays of actuators and photodetectors in laminated, multilayer configurations on flexible substrates, with overlaid arrangements of pixelated, color-changing elements. The concepts provide realistic routes to thin sheets that can be conformally wrapped onto solid objects to modulate their visual appearance, with potential relevance to consumer, industrial, and military applications.

publication date

  • September 9, 2014