Cephalopod-inspired polymer composites with mechanically tunable infrared properties

Bin Yao, Xinwei Xu, Zhubing Han, Wenhan Xu, Guang Yang, Jing Guo, Guixin Li, Qing Wang, Hong Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Cephalopods have evolved an all-soft skin that can rapidly display colors for protection, predation, or communication. Development of synthetic analogs to mimic such color-changing abilities in the infrared (IR) region is pivotal to a variety of technologies ranging from soft robotics, flexible displays, dynamic thermoregulatory systems, to adaptive IR disguise platforms. However, the integration of tissue-like mechanical properties and rapid IR modulation ability into smart materials remains challenging. Here, by drawing inspiration from cephalopod skin, we develop an all-soft adaptive IR composite that can dynamically change its IR appearance upon equiaxial stretching. The biomimetic composite is built entirely from soft materials of liquid metal droplets and elastic elastomer, which are analogs of chromatophores and dermal layer of cephalopod skin, respectively. Driven by externally applied strains, the liquid metal inclusions transition between a contracted droplet state with corrugated surface and an expanded platelet state with relatively smooth surface, enabling dynamic variations in the IR reflectance/emissivity of the composite and ultimately resulting in reversible IR adaption. Strain-actuated flexible IR displays and pneumatically-driven soft devices that can dynamically manipulate their IR appearance are demonstrated as examples of the applicability of this material in emerging adaptive soft electronics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2962-2972
Number of pages11
JournalScience Bulletin
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 15 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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