Research ArticlePHOTONICS

Bioinspired bright noniridescent photonic melanin supraballs

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Science Advances  15 Sep 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 9, e1701151
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701151

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Structural colors enable the creation of a spectrum of nonfading colors without pigments, potentially replacing toxic metal oxides and conjugated organic pigments. However, significant challenges remain to achieve the contrast needed for a complete gamut of colors and a scalable process for industrial application. We demonstrate a feasible solution for producing structural colors inspired by bird feathers. We have designed core-shell nanoparticles using high–refractive index (RI) (~1.74) melanin cores and low-RI (~1.45) silica shells. The design of these nanoparticles was guided by finite-difference time-domain simulations. These nanoparticles were self-assembled using a one-pot reverse emulsion process, which resulted in bright and noniridescent supraballs. With the combination of only two ingredients, synthetic melanin and silica, we can generate a full spectrum of colors. These supraballs could be directly added to paints, plastics, and coatings and also used as ultraviolet-resistant inks or cosmetics.

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