Sea creatures have inspired scientists to create unique, innovative things. This time scientists have taken inspiration from squid skin in order to create next generation space blankets that can both trap or release the heat.
Sea creatures like squids have the ability to change the color of their skin due to particular cells called chromatophores. Each chromatophore consists of a sac of pigment that normally appears as a small point.
When the muscles surrounding one of the cells contact; the colored sac flattens into a disc shape, causing it to appear larger to an observer.
Hence, when few neighboring chormatophore sacs all flatten into one another, the animal’s skin changes from being the underlying color to that of the pigment.
Inspired by this system, the team developed a material that includes a layer of tiny metal ‘islands’ that border each other.
During an experiment of how such clothing might work, the scientists fashioned a sleeve from the material, which could be manually stretched or loosened via Velcro-like attachments. The sleeve was successfully used to modulate the skin temperature of a wearer’s forearm.
“The temperature at which people are comfortable in an office is slightly different for everyone,” as per Alon Gorodetsky.
“Our invention could lead to clothing that adjusts to suit the comfort of each person indoors. This could result in potential savings of 30 to 40 percent on heating and air conditioning energy use.”