Colour gamuts in polychromatic dielectric elastomer artificial chromatophores

Jonathan M Rossiter, Andrew T Conn, Antonio Cerruto, Amy Winters, Calum Roke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

5 Citations (Scopus)


Chromatophores are the colour changing organelles in the skins of animals including fish and cephalopods. The ability of cephalopods in particular to rapidly change their colouration in response to environmental changes, for example to camouflage against a new background, and in social situations, for example to attract a mate or repel a rival, is extremely attractive for engineering, medical, active clothing and biomimetic robotic applications. The rapid response of these chromatophores is possible by the direct coupling of fast acting muscle and pigmented saccules. In artificial chromatophores we are able to mimic this structure using electroactive polymer artificial muscles. In contrast to prior research which has demonstrated monochromatic artificial chromatophores, here we consider a novel multi-colour, multi-layer, artificial chromatophore structure inspired by the complex dermal chromatophore unit in nature and which exploits dielectric elastomer artificial muscles as the electroactive actuation mechanism. We investigate the optical properties of this chromatophore unit and explore the range of colours and effects that a single unit and a matrix of chromatophores can produce. The colour gamut of the multi-colour chromatophore is analysed and shows its suitability for practical display and camouflage applications. It is demonstrated how, by varying actuator strain and chromatophore base colour, the gamut can be shifted through colour space, thereby tuning the artificial chromatophore to a specific environment or application.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
PublisherSociety of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)
ISBN (Print)9780819499820
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2014
EventElectroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices, EAPAD 2014 - San Diego, CA, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Mar 201413 Mar 2014


ConferenceElectroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices, EAPAD 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CitySan Diego, CA

Structured keywords

  • Tactile Action Perception


  • Chromatophores
  • colour gamut
  • compliant skins
  • dielectric elastomer
  • polychromatic
  • smart textiles


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