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Tarantulas inspire new structural color with the greatest viewing angle

Finding opens new potential to mass produce structural colors

Date:
February 7, 2017
Source:
University of Akron
Summary:
Inspired by the hair of blue tarantulas, researchers have made a 3-D printed structural-colored material that has a viewing angle of 160 degrees, the largest of any synthetic structural colors demonstrated. They could be mass produced and used as pigment replacements -- many of which are toxic -- in materials i.e. plastics, textiles and paper, and for producing color for wide-angle viewing systems i.e. phones and televisions.
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This image illustrates the development of non-iridescent structurally colored material inspired by tarantula hairs.
Credit: The University of Akron

Inspired by the hair of blue tarantulas, researchers from The University of Akron lead a team that made a structural-colored material that shows consistent color from all viewing directions. This finding overturns the conventional wisdom that long-range order photonic structures are always iridescent, opening new potential to mass produce structural colors because highly ordered designs are easy to scale-up and manufacture. Bor-Kai (Bill) Hsiung and his colleagues at UA, Ghent University, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln published their research, which is featured on the cover of the January 2017 journal of Advanced Optical Materials.

"Structural colors are more vibrant and durable than the pigments used in most human-made products," explained Hsiung, the lead author of this research and a Biomimicry Fellow in the Integrated Bioscience Ph.D. program at The University of Akron. "They are produced by optical effects when light interacts with nanostructures that are about the same size as the wavelength of light." Think of a peacock, or a butterfly. The problem is that most structural colors are strongly iridescent, changing color when viewed from different angles. It's beautiful out in nature, but not very functional when we're watching television and we move to a new seat."

The team first discovered that many vibrant blue tarantulas do not show iridescence even though the spiders use nanostructures to produce those colors. Since the spider's blue color is not iridescent, Hsiung's team suggested that the same process could be applied to make pigment replacements that never fade, as well as to help reduce glare on wide-angle viewing systems in phones, televisions and other devices.

As they dug deeper, they found that the hairs of some species of blue tarantulas show a special flower-like shape that they hypothesized reduced the iridescent effect resulting from periodic structures. Then, thanks to the crowdfunding push they received earlier, they were able to test this hypothesis using a series of computer simulations and physical prototypes built using cutting-edge nano-3D printing technology.

Their color produced by the 3D printed structures has a viewing angle of 160 degrees, the largest viewing angle of any synthetic structural colors demonstrated.

"These structural colorants could be used as pigment replacements -- many of which are toxic -- in materials such as plastics, metal, textiles and paper, and for producing color for wide-angle viewing systems such as phones and televisions," Hsiung said.


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Materials provided by University of Akron. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bor-Kai Hsiung, Radwanul Hasan Siddique, Lijia Jiang, Ying Liu, Yongfeng Lu, Matthew D. Shawkey, Todd A. Blackledge. Structural Colors: Tarantula-Inspired Noniridescent Photonics with Long-Range Order (Advanced Optical Materials 2/2017). Advanced Optical Materials, 2017; 5 (2) DOI: 10.1002/adom.201770008

Cite This Page:

University of Akron. "Tarantulas inspire new structural color with the greatest viewing angle: Finding opens new potential to mass produce structural colors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 February 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170207142719.htm>.
University of Akron. (2017, February 7). Tarantulas inspire new structural color with the greatest viewing angle: Finding opens new potential to mass produce structural colors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170207142719.htm
University of Akron. "Tarantulas inspire new structural color with the greatest viewing angle: Finding opens new potential to mass produce structural colors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170207142719.htm (accessed May 27, 2017).

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