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Stretchable surfaces with programmable 3D texture morphing for synthetic camouflaging skins

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Science  13 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6360, pp. 210-214
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5627

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3D texture morphing for camouflage

Some animals, such as cephalopods, use soft tissue to change shape reversibly for camouflage and object manipulation. Pikul et al. used fixed-length fiber mesh embedded in a silicone elastomer to transform a flat object into a 3D structure by inflating membranes (see the Perspective by Laschi). Painted models of rocks and plants were also created that could be morphed to fully blend into their surroundings.

Science, this issue p. 210; see also p. 169

Abstract

Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons. Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces; for example, cephalopods can project hierarchical structures from their skin in milliseconds for a wide range of textural camouflage. Inspired by cephalopod muscular morphology, we developed synthetic tissue groupings that allowed programmable transformation of two-dimensional (2D) stretchable surfaces into target 3D shapes. The synthetic tissue groupings consisted of elastomeric membranes embedded with inextensible textile mesh that inflated to within 10% of their target shapes by using a simple fabrication method and modeling approach. These stretchable surfaces transform from flat sheets to 3D textures that imitate natural stone and plant shapes and camouflage into their background environments.

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