Scientists have created a camouflage system inspired by cephalopods such as octopus, cuttlefish and squid.

Some cephalopods have the ability to change their color according to their surroundings, which helps them in hiding from predators, communicating with others, finding food and more.

Cunjiang Yu at the University of Houston and John Rogers at the University of Illinois at Urbana led a team of scientists and claims to have created a flexible pixelated sheet, which can detect light falling upon it and change its color. The latest creation is far behind cephalopods and can change its color only from black to white. The pixelated sheet also takes a bit more time than cephalopods to change its color.

"These devices are capable of producing black-and-white patterns that spontaneously match those of the surroundings, without user input or external measurement," per the study.

The scientists explain that the color-changing device comprises a few layers and the top layer has a dye, which is temperature-sensitive. This dye appears black in color when at low temperatures, but changes to white at temperatures of over 116 degrees Fahrenheit or 46.66 degrees Celsius.

The pixelated sheet has a few more layers under the top sheet, which includes a reflective silver tile layer, a very thin layer composed of silicon circuits that control the dye temperature and a rubber foundation made of transparent silicone. The scientists reveal that the total thickness of these layers in the device is less than 200 microns.

The scientists also say that underneath the above layers is a base layer, which contains a number of photoreceptors to sense light. All the layers are attached in such a way that it leaves gaps for light to pass by the photoreceptors, so that they can change the color of the system when required.

The application of the technology behind the pixelated sheet is still not very clear. However, the scientists suggest that this is just the first step in the field. Future developments in the technology may bring in more colors than just black or white and faster response time. Some scientists believe that the technology at its advanced stage may be used in military operations in the future.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Check out a short video of the pixelated sheet changing colors.

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