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Smart Designs From Squid, Zebrafish and Fruit

Unlikely combinations not normally associated with fibers, these unusual substances have been examined for their rich color enhancing capabilities.

Able to change the color of their outer appearance, squid and zebrafish can appear lighter or darker. Researchers from the University of Bristol (U.K.) have discovered a process for simulating the muscles and cells of squid that can produce the colorful effects.

They looked at these specific animals since they are inherently capable of reactively controlling their skin’s color. The cells in color changing animals that hold pigments are called chromatophores. When the muscles are contracted they expand and look larger.

The behaviors of the zebrafish were also studied. Another example of an animal able to change their color as they actually hold a supply that contains a fluid pigment which can permeate through the skin. Resembling ink, this process produces a concealing, continually changing appearance.

The fake chromatophores reportedly can be formed into a malleable skin like surface which would be a good candidate for uses where traditional, harder materials are not ideal.

The following video showcases the processes from the study.

Another natural inspiration for producing fabric fibers comes from a strange-named fruit. Margaritaria nobilis, or more commonly known as the oddly named bastard hogberry, was studied by a research team that included investigators from Harvard University (U.S.) and the University of Exeter (U.K.). They were able to mimic the fibers of the plant, which change their color when they are pulled.

Smart Designs From Squid, Zebrafish and Fruit

Image source: seas.harvard.edu

This particular type of hogberry has a strong, hard to replicate, blue outer hue. The interior from this fruit are composed of complex fiber networks, and are being eyed for potential use with smart fabrics that contain sensors or respond to things like heat and compression.

Looking to natural processes for producing smart technology for things like tailor made, color changing fibers and other uses offers smart designs and many different applications.

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