Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stealth Camouflage from Squid Protein

We have written to the merits of squid and other cephalopod camouflage in the past. There are many scientists studying their capabilities to easily conceal themselves into their surrounding environment utilizing their color changing capabilities, which you can quickly see in the video below. Some have looked at replicating their method of concealment through synthetic visual application. However, researchers led by Alon Gorodetsky are taking it one step further by taking the squid's own biological means for camouflage and carrying it over for use in products that can be utilized to conceal humans with a clear means for military application.

In addition for cephalopods to conceal themselves visual spectrum, they have also been determined to have the same capabilities in the near infrared spectrum. Clearly this is one more level of interest the military can gleam from any technology developed utilizing this ability to conceal an object or person from detection through night vision apparatuses. The team of researchers utilized the protein reflectin, which provide the squid's skin cells with the ability to refract light extremely well. The protein was taken from Longfin Inshore Squid and replicated utilizing E. Coli bacteria and formed into thin films. They determined that the thicker the film, the higher its wavelength, thus showing the reflectin's ability to adjust across the visible light spectrum and change its color.

Electromagnetic Spectrum - Victor Blacus

The researchers then sought out their ultimate goal of bringing the film into the near infrared scale by thickening the existing film through additional manipulation. Adding humidity increased the thickness and brought it to the edge of the visible spectrum with a change from orange to red. Adding an acetic acid vapor further increased the thickness of the film into the near infrared spectrum rendering it relatively invisible from near infrared detection equipment.

They do note that they are looking for further viability to be utilized military stealth camouflage and that the overall production is inexpensive and they are seeking out different methods to adjust the reflectance other than by water or acid solution. They also deem the this camouflage solution could be readily applicable to a variety of surfaces. A further means to adjust the reflectance and truly mimic the camouflage capabilities of the squid could develop a camouflage that can be adjusted at will in order to best blend in with the surrounding environment while remaining in plain sight. The complete research is featured in Advanced Materials.
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