Friday Squid Blogging: Research into Squid Skin

DoD awarded a $6M grant to study squid skin:

"Our internal nickname for this project is 'squid skin,' but it is really about fundamental research," said Naomi Halas, a nano-optics pioneer at Rice and the principal investigator on the four-year grant. "Our deliverable is knowledge -- the basic discoveries that will allow us to make materials that are observant, adaptive and responsive to their environment."

Halas said the project was inspired by the groundbreaking work of grant co-investigator Roger Hanlon, a Woods Hole marine biologist who has spent more than three decades studying the class of animals called cephalopods that includes the squid, octopus and cuttlefish. One of Hanlon's many discoveries is that cephalopod skins contain opsins, the same type of light-sensing proteins that function in eyes.

"The presence of opsin means they have some primitive vision sensor embedded in their skin," Halas said. "So the questions we have are, 'What can we, as engineers, learn from the way these animals perceive light and color? Do their brains play a part, or is this totally downloaded into the skin so it's not using animal CPU time?"

Posted on December 31, 2010 at 4:08 PM • 3 Comments

Comments

trapspam.honeypotDecember 31, 2010 9:20 PM

Happy New Year 2011

My first reaction was 6 Mil US$ for research...

Advancing science was never cheap nor easy.

Geek ProphetJanuary 1, 2011 8:26 AM

Look who is paying for it. The military would *love* to be able to hide ships, equipment, and soldiers nearly as well as some cephalopods can hide themselves. $6 million is a lot of money, but if something useful comes out of the research, it is nothing compared to what they will pay to turn this into effective camouflage.

jerryJanuary 7, 2011 7:09 PM

Stephen Baxter knew the value and the
adaptability of the female squid when he made
a bio-enhanced version one of his
main characters and an astronaut whose
mission was to fly to an nearby asteroid in
"Manifold Time". It's good to see a namesake,
Hanlon, studying cephalopods and squid specifically.
Who knows, he might also have been a character
in the book with a name change.

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