Computational modeling explains why blues and greens are the brightest in nature

Sincerely: University of Cambridge

Researchers have shown that the intense, pure red in nature is mainly produced by pigments, rather than the structural color that produces bright blue and green.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge conducted a numerical experiment to determine the boundaries of matte structural color — a phenomenon that accounts for some of nature’s most intense colors — and found that it only extends to the blue and green visible spectrum. . Results published in PNAS, Can be useful in the development of non-toxic paints or deep-colored coatings that never fade.

Structural coloring, seen in some bird feathers, butterfly feathers, or insects, is not due to pigment or pigment, but to the internal structure. The appearance of color, whether matte or iridescent, depends on how the structures are arranged at the nanoscale.

Ordered or crystalline, the structures result in iridescent colors, which change when viewed from different angles. Disorganized, or correlated, structures result in angle-independent matte colors, which look similar from any viewing angle. Since the structural color does not fade, these angle-independent matte colors will be highly useful for applications such as paints or coatings, where metallic effects are not desired.

Gianni Jacussi, the first author of Cambridge’s chemistry department, said, “In addition to their intensity and fading resistance, a matte paint that uses structural paint will also be more environmentally friendly, as toxic dyes and dyes will not be required . ” “However, we first need to understand what the limitations are for re-creating this type of colors before any commercial applications.”

“Most examples of structural color in nature are iridescent – until now, examples of naturally occurring matte structural color exist only in blue or green paint,” said co-author Lucas Schurtel. “When we have tried to artificially recreate matte structural color for reds or oranges, we end up with a poor-quality result in terms of both saturation and color purity.”

Researchers, who received Drs. Sylvia is based in Vignolini’s laboratory, used numerical modeling to determine the boundaries of making saturated, pure and matte red structural colors.

The researchers modeled the optical response and color appearance of the nanostructures, as found in the natural world. They found that saturated, matte structural colors cannot be recreated in the red region of the visible spectrum, which may explain the absence of these hues in natural systems.

“Because of the complex interaction between single scattering and contributions from multiple scattering and correlated scattering, we found that red, yellow, and orange are rarely accessible apart,” Vignolini said.

Despite the apparent limitations of structural color, researchers say they can be overcome using other types of nanostructures, such as network structures or multi-layered hierarchical structures, although these systems are not yet fully understood.

Structural color without flicker

more information:
Gianni Jacucci et al, Limitations of extending nature’s color palette in correlated, disordered systems, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (2020). DOI: 10.1073 / pnas.2010486117

Provided by the University of Cambridge

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