June 18, 2021

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Chameleon skin revolutionizes robot technology

Chameleons are wonderful animals. With its ability to change color in a short time, it not only impresses biologists. Material researchers are also interested in how chameleon skin works.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Ningbo are now, according to a report by “Do“He managed to artificially recreate such a skin.

The guanine crystals in chameleon skin cause discolouration

For a long time it was not known how quickly chameleons can change their color. Contrary to what was long assumed, we now know that the color change does not occur via dyes but via crystals made with guanine.

Crystals are found in chameleon skin cells and can thus reflect incident light. Depending on how close the crystals are to each other, the light is refracted to different degrees and made to appear a different color. This is controlled by the animals’ excitement state.

Hydrogels take the role of chameleon skin

Synthetic leather is made of soft, moist polymers called hydrogels. Researchers can let them grow into centimeter-sized creatures. Hydrogels are encapsulated in two thin polymeric layers that contain pigments. Under ultraviolet light, these colors can fluoresce red, green, or blue.

Other chemical compounds ensure that the wavelength of fluorescent light changes when conditions change. This means that the color changes as it gets warmer or the surrounding medium becomes more acid or basic. Skin was tested on different fish samples Temperatures Have been preserved.

Use as a safety tool or robot skin

In the case of rotten shrimp, for example, there was a change in color from purple to green. The bacteria released ammonia, changing the acidity of the sample. The obvious use would be as a food safety feature.

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But new technology may also be of benefit to robots. The most obvious is the possibility of camouflage. However, the way it works can protect the skin from overheating. Additionally, color changes can be used for communication.