Too much time in the sun? This sensor, inspired by the squid camouflage, will alert you

Too much time in the sun?  This sensor, inspired by the squid camouflage, will alert you

Scientists at Northeastern University have developed special sensors based on the mechanism behind the camouflage-shifting squid to keep humans from being out in the sun for too long. Their works were published in the journal ACS Sensors, and the starting point for the development of the sensor was, inter alia, squid can blend in effortlessly into their environment.

Sensor inspired by squid camouflage

The main task of the researchers was not even to develop sensors to reduce the incidence of UV-induced skin cancer or even the potential for a stroke. Although they finally achieved this by using paper sensors to warn of impending sunburn, in practice it was an accidental discovery that xanthomatine particles in the squid change color when exposed to light.

Following this discovery, team members wondered if this newly discovered light-sensing ability of molecules could be used as a basis for the development of a new type of UV sensor. For this purpose, they designed a finger-sized device that can be worn over a shirt or bathing suit, and which consists of five layers of thin plastic and a round piece of paper that has been pigmented and dried. The device also integrates a “sensor activation button” which releases liquid from a small reservoir at its edge, which flows through channels cut in the plastic and moisturizes the pigmented paper.

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As a result, wet paper reacts to UV radiation, turning from yellow / orange to red. The shade depends on the more the sensor is exposed to UV rays. The team tested their sticker and found that it worked well in a variety of conditions, and further experiments allowed it to be calibrated, for example, with a sunscreen. Scientists imagine that the device will find application not only in monitoring sun exposure, but also in sterilization with UV light.


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