Iridescence-controlled and flexibly tunable retroreflective structural color film for smart displays

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Science Advances  09 Aug 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 8, eaaw8755
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw8755


Structural color materials, which use nano- or microstructures to reflect specific wavelengths of ambient white light, have drawn much attention owing to their wide applications ranging from optoelectronics, coatings, to energy-efficient reflective displays. Although various structural color materials based on specular or diffuse reflection have been demonstrated, neither efficient retroreflective structural colors nor iridescent and non-iridescent colors to different observers simultaneously were reported by existing artificial or natural structural color materials. Here, we show that by partially embedding a monolayer of polymer microspheres on the sticky side of a transparent tape, the spontaneously formed interferometric structure on the surface of air-cushioned microspheres can lead to unique structural colors that remain non-iridescent under coaxial illumination and viewing conditions, but appear iridescent under noncoaxial illumination and viewing conditions. Our findings demonstrate a smart, energy-efficient, and tunable retroreflective structural color material that is especially suitable for nighttime traffic safety and advertisement display applications.

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