A "quantum material" that mimics a shark's ability to detect the minute electric fields of small prey has been shown to perform well in ocean-like conditions, with potential applications from defense to marine biology. The material maintains its functional stability and does not corrode after being immersed in saltwater, a prerequisite for ocean sensing. Surprisingly, it also functions well in the cold, ambient temperatures typical of seawater. Such a technology might be used to study ocean organisms and ecosystems and to monitor the movement of ships for military and commercial maritime applications. The new sensor was inspired by an organ near a shark's mouth called the ampullae of Lorenzini, which is capable of detecting small electric fields from prey animals. The organ contains a jelly that conducts ions from seawater to a specialized membrane located at the bottom of the ampulla. Sensing cells in the membrane allow the shark to detect bioelectric fields emitted by prey fish.
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