Multimaterial Printing for Cephalopod-Inspired Light-Responsive Artificial Chromatophores

Daehoon Han, Yueping Wang, Chen Yang, Howon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Cephalopods use chromatophores distributed on their soft skin to change skin color and its pattern. Each chromatophore consists of a central sac containing pigment granules and radial muscles surrounding the sac. The contraction of the radial muscle causes the central sac to expand in area, making the color of the pigment more visible. With the chromatophores actuating individually, cephalopods can create extremely complex skin color patterns, which they utilize for exquisite functions including camouflage and communication. Inspired by this mechanism, we present an artificial chromatophore that can modulate its color pattern in response to light. Multimaterial projection microstereolithography is used to integrate three functional components including a photoactive hydrogel composite with polydopamine nanoparticles (PDA-NPs), acrylic acid hydrogel, and poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate. In order to generate light-driven actuation of the artificial chromatophore, the photothermal effect of the PDA-NPs, light-responsive deformation of the photoactive hydrogel composite, and the produced mechanical stresses are studied. Mechanical properties and interfacial bonding strengths between different materials are also investigated to ensure structural integrity during actuation. We demonstrate pattern modulation of the light-responsive artificial chromatophores (LACs) with the projection of different light patterns. The LAC may suggest a new concept for various engineering applications such as the camouflage interface, biophotonic device, and flexible display.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12735-12745
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 24 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)


  • camouflage
  • cephalopods
  • light-responsive hydrogels
  • multimaterial 3D printing
  • polydopamine


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