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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Color-Shifting "Master of Disguise" Cuttlefish Inspires Hyper-Energy Efficient TV

by Michael Graham Richard, Gatineau, Canada

cuttlefish television image
Image: Getty & Samsung

Biomimicry Strikes Again
Scientists at MIT are studying color-changing cuttlefish, and with an understanding of how these fascinating creatures (see the 3 videos below) can change color in less than a second, they're building electronic-ink and TV screens that could "use less than one-hundredth the power of traditional television screens" yet be cheap, easy and safe to make using "dirt cheap polystyrene" . If it all works out, it would be a great example of how biomimicry can help us develop greener products.

From Discovery News:

The current screen prototype is several square inches across but only one micron thick. Crammed into that narrow space are 20 to 30 layers of alternating "dirt cheap polystyrene that doesn't do anything," said Thomas, and "responsive" poly-2 vinyl.

At rest, with no electrical charge, the screen is clear. As the voltage increases, the poly-2 vinyl expands, becoming thicker and thicker while reflecting ever longer wavelengths of light, starting with blue and finishing with red at 10 volts.

Of course there are some drawbacks; viewing angle can be limited, and since the screen is reflecting light, you have to use it in a lit room. But it's still early and maybe those problems can be fixed, or maybe the "cuttlefish" screens and electronic-ink can be used in certain specialized applications where those things aren't a problem.

Videos of Cuttlefish Changing Color and Camouflaging
For your viewing pleasure, here's a couple videos of a cuttlefish going all Star Trek with the active camouflage:

Via Discovery News


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