Biomimetic chromatophores for camouflage and soft active surfaces

Jonathan Rossiter*, Bryan Yap, Andrew Conn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Chromatophores are the pigment-containing cells in the skins of animals such as fish and cephalopods which have chromomorphic (colour-changing) and controllable goniochromic (iridescent-changing) properties. These animals control the optical properties of their skins for camouflage and, it is speculated, for communication. The ability to replicate these properties in soft artificial skin structures opens up new possibilities for active camouflage, thermal regulation and active photovoltaics. This paper presents the design and implementation of soft and compliant artificial chromatophores based on the cutaneous chromatophores in fish and cephalopods. We demonstrate artificial chromatophores that are actuated by electroactive polymer artificial muscles, mimicking the radially orientated muscles found in natural chromatophores. It is shown how bio-inspired chromomorphism may be achieved using both areal expansion of dielectric elastomer structures and by the hydrostatic translocation of pigmented fluid into an artificial dermal melanophore.

Translated title of the contributionBiomimetic chromatophores for camouflage and soft active surfaces
Original languageEnglish
Article number036009
Pages (from-to)1 - 10
Number of pages10
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Institute of Physics

Structured keywords

  • Tactile Action Perception


  • SKIN

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