Chameleon-like robots can change color and blend into their surroundings

The study was published in Nature Communications.

A new approach to fabricating

Producing flexible electronics consists of expensive tools and several scientific steps many times. Therefore, an easy and versatile fabrication strategy to support the increasing demand for flexible electroluminescence devices in technological and optical applications is needed.

Ji Liu and researchers display an approach to fabricating flexible electroluminescence devices through multi-material 3D printing. They formulated ion conducting, electroluminescent and insulating inks suitable for 3D printing, which they could use to create facile, on-demand, flexible, and stretchable electroluminescent devices.

With this development, Ji Liu and his colleagues integrated a flexible wristband that emits blue light into the soft robot that can change color without delay, like a chameleon.

The authors indicate the devices display stable electroluminescence even under different modes of mechanical deformation, such as bending, twisting, and stretching.

How does a chameleon change its color?

A chameleon is green when immobile, meaning it’s naturally in harmony with its leafy surroundings. But male chameleons will change color when stimulated in the presence of a female or a rival male.

As a chameleon becomes more stimulated, its color becomes more yellow, orange, and red, meaning it becomes more visible rather than adapting to the color around it.

Chameleons have different cells in their skin that contain colored pigments. Some are yellow, some are red, and some include the dark pigment melanin. It is known that the cells of chameleons and many other animals turn a darker shade by secreting melanin from their fingerlike appendages. It concentrates the pigment in one spot, making it lighter again.

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