Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Penn Researchers Find New Way to Mimic the Color and Texture of Butterfly Wings

16.10.2012
The colors of a butterfly’s wings are unusually bright and beautiful and are the result of an unusual trait; the way they reflect light is fundamentally different from how color works most of the time.
A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has found a way to generate this kind of “structural color” that has the added benefit of another trait of butterfly wings: super-hydrophobicity, or the ability to strongly repel water.

The research was led by Shu Yang, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, and included other members of her group: Jie Li, Guanquan Liang and Xuelian Zhu.

Their research was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

“A lot of research over the last 10 years has gone into trying to create structural colors like those found in nature, in things like butterfly wings and opals,” Yang said.” People have also been interested in creating superhydrophobic surfaces which is found in things like lotus leaves, and in butterfly wings, too, since they couldn’t stay in air with raindrops clinging to them.”

The two qualities — structural color and superhydrophobicity — are related by structures. Structural color is the result of periodic patterns, while superhydrophobicity is the result of surface roughness

When light strikes the surface of a periodic lattice, it’s scattered, interfered or diffracted at a wavelength comparable to the lattice size, producing a particularly bright and intense color that is much stronger than color obtained from pigments or dyes.

When water lands on a hydrophobic surface, its roughness reduces the effective contact area between water and a solid area where it can adhere, resulting in an increase of water contact angle and water droplet mobility on such surface.

While trying to combine these traits, engineers have to go through complicated, multi-step processes, first to create color-providing 3D structures out of a polymer, followed by additional steps to make them rough in the nanoscale. These secondary steps, such as nanoparticle assembly, or plasma etching, must be performed very carefully as to not vary the optical property determined by the 3D periodic lattice created in the first step.

Yang’s method begins with a non-conventional photolithography technique, holographic lithography, where a laser creates a cross-linked 3D network from a material called a photoresist. The photoresist material in the regions that are not exposed to the laser light are later removed by a solvent, leaving the “holes” in the 3D lattice that provides structural color.

Instead of using nanoparticles or plasma etching, Yang’s team was able to add the desired nano-roughness to the structures by simply changing solvents after washing away the photoresist. The trick was to use a poor solvent; the better a solvent is, the more it tries to maximize the contact with the material. Bad solvents have the opposite effect, which the team used to its advantage at the end of the photolithography step.
“The good solvent causes the structure to swell,” Yang said. “Once it has swollen, we put in the poor solvent. Because the polymer hates the poor solvent, it crunches in and shrivels, forming nanospheres within the 3D lattice.

“We found that the worse the solvent we used, the more rough we could make the structures,” Yang said.

Both superhydrophobicity and structural color are in high demand for a variety of applications. Materials with structural color could be used in as light-based analogs of semiconductors, for example, for light guiding, lasing and sensing. As they repel liquids, superhydrophobic coatings are self-cleaning and waterproof. Since optical devices are highly dependent on their degree of light transmission, the ability to maintain the device surface’s dryness and cleanliness will minimize the energy consumption and negative environmental impact without the use of intensive labors and chemicals. Yang has recently received a grant to develop such coatings for solar panels.

The researchers have ideas for how the two traits could be combined in one application, as well.

“Specifically, we’re interested in putting this kind of material on the outside of buildings,” Yang said. “The structural color we can produce is bright and highly decorative, and it won’t fade away like conventional pigmentation color dies. The introduction of nano-roughness will offer additional benefits, such as energy efficiency and environmental friendliness.

“It could be a high-end facade for the aesthetics alone, in addition to the appeal of its self-cleaning properties. We are also developing energy efficient building skins that will integrate such materials in optical sensors.”

The research was supported by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.

Evan Lerner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.upenn.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer
20.10.2017 | Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

nachricht Metallic nanoparticles will help to determine the percentage of volatile compounds
20.10.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>