Digital Texture Voxels for Stretchable Morphing Skin Applications

Caterina Lamuta, Honglu He, Kaihao Zhang, Michael Rogalski, Nancy Sottos, Sameh Tawfick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The skin of the cephalopod is a 3D display, where the papillae muscles control the protrusion of each voxel by several millimeters out of the skin plane, create hierarchical textures, and collectively change the overall skin pattern in a fraction of a second. A material system capable of mimicking this response using electromechanical actuation of twisted spiral artificial muscles (TSAMs) is presented in this study. TSAMs leverage the mechanics of their twisted geometry to extend out of plane by 8 mm, corresponding to 2000% strain using a voltage of only 0.02 V mm−1. They are made of polymer fibers wrapped with a helical metal wire. These actuators are assembled on a stretchable skin with the required flexible electrical connections to form an array of digital texture voxels (DTVs). The DTV array produces arbitrary 3D surface patterns on-demand, and provides opportunities to control hydrodynamic drag, camouflage, and haptic displays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1900260
JournalAdvanced Materials Technologies
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • digital voxels
  • soft skin
  • texture morphing
  • twisted spiral artificial muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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