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Mapping structure-function relationships in squid-inspired composite materials

NOV 10, 2023
The dynamic infrared properties of composite materials are determined by their surface structure.
Mapping structure-function relationships in squid-inspired composite materials internal name

Mapping structure-function relationships in squid-inspired composite materials lead image

The proliferation of wearable technology leads to an increased demand for systems that can manage heat flow and ensure comfort for the wearer. Flexible thermoregulatory materials must be low-cost, easy to manufacture, and capable of adjusting to different conditions.

Liu et al. discussed recent progress in developing one such class of materials inspired by the structure of squid skin. They experimentally explored the relationship between the composite materials’ surface microstructure and adaptive infrared function and developed a computational model to predict such relationships.

The team based the design of their material on the chromatophores embedded in the skin of squids and other cephalopods. Radially arranged muscles reversibly expand and contract these pigmented cells to alter the organism’s coloring.

Mimicking these properties, the researchers developed a composite material featuring a thin metal film grown on top of a polymer matrix. By stretching the composite, they could cause the metal to break apart into discrete islands, altering its reflective and transmissive properties.

“We found that we could control the way the surfaces break up into islands,” said author Alon Gorodetsky. “That allowed us to predict the properties of the materials. On top of that, we could computationally model the relationship between the islands’ sizes and the way the materials transmit and reflect infrared radiation.”

The authors hope their design will be used for thermal regulation in wearable systems, while their computational model can aid researchers developing similar types of materials.

“This model would allow people working on comparable materials to predict how effectively specific metal and polymer combinations would work together before investing in experiments,” said Gorodetsky.

Source: “Structure-function relationships for squid skin-inspired wearable thermoregulatory materials,” by Panyiming Liu, Erica M. Leung, Mohsin Ali Badshah, Christopher S. Moore, and Alon A. Gorodetsky, APL Bioengineering (2023). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0149289 .

This paper is part of the Emerging Technologies in Wearable Sensors Collection, learn more here .

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