The polymers do not use pigments but instead exhibit intense colour due to their structure, similar to the way nature creates colour for beetle shells and butterfly wings.
These colours were created by highly ordered polymer layers, which the researchers produced using block copoylmers (an alloy of two different polymers). By mixing block copolymers together, the researchers were able to create any colour in the rainbow from two non-coloured solutions.
This type of polymer then automatically organises itself into a layered structure, causing optical effects similar to opals. The colour also changes depending on the viewing angle. This system has huge advantage in terms of cost, processing and colour selection compared to existing systems.
The complexity of the chemistry involved in making the polymer means they are very difficult for fraudsters to copy, making them ideally suited for use on passports or banknotes.
The academics used Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron science facility in Oxfordshire, to probe the ordered, layered structures using high power X-rays. This helped them understand how the colours were formed, and how to improve the appearance.
Dr Andrew Parnell, from the University of Sheffield's Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: "Our aim was to mimic the wonderful and funky coloured patterns found in nature, such as Peacock feathers. We now have a painter's palette of colours that we can choose from using just two polymers to do this. We think that these materials have huge potential to be used commercially."
Professor Nick Terrill, Principal Beamline Scientist for I22, the Diamond laboratory used for the experiment, explained: "Small Angle X-ray Scattering is a simple technique that in this case has provided valuable confirmatory information. By using Diamond's X-rays to confirm the structure of the polymer, the group was able to identify the appropriate blends for the colours required, meaning they can now tailor the polymer composition accordingly."
Notes for Editors: The institutions involved in the research include the University of Sheffield, the University of Hull and Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire.
To view the paper, 'Continuously tuneable optical filters from self-assembled block copolymer blends', published in Soft Matter, please visit the link below.Diamond Light Source is funded by the UK Government via the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and by the Wellcome Trust.
The Diamond synchrotron generates extremely intense pin-point beams of light of exceptional quality ranging from X-rays, ultra-violet and infrared. Diamond´s X-rays are around 100 billion times brighter than a standard hospital X-ray machine.Over 2000 researchers use Diamond to conduct experiments in a wide range of disciplines including health and medicine, structural biology, energy, engineering, earth and environmental sciences, solid-state physics, materials & magnetism, nanoscience, electronics, chemistry and cultural heritage.
For more details please visit the link below.
Fusion IP plc (Fusion) was established in 2002 to commercialise university-generated intellectual property. It has long-term exclusive agreements with two of the UK´s leading research intensive universities, the University of Sheffield and Cardiff University, giving it exclusive access to a combined R&D spend of over £185m a year.
Fusion's first agreement was a ten-year exclusive arrangement with the University of Sheffield giving it the right to commercialise (through both the creation of spin-out companies and licensing) research, owned by the University, initially in the area of medical life sciences. This agreement was expanded in July 2008 to include all non-life science research-generated IP such as energy, engineering and electronics. Fusion has significant shareholdings in a portfolio of Sheffield University spin-out companies including Simcyp, Magnomatics, Diurnal and Phase Focus. For more details please visit the link below.
For further information please contact: Shemina Davis, Media Relations Officer, on 0114 2225339 or email email@example.com
Shemina Davis | EurekAlert!
How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years
27.10.2016 | University of California - Los Angeles
3-D-printed structures shrink when heated
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences