Scientists from the University of Sheffield have used Diamond's I22 beamline to develop intensely coloured iridescent materials by mixing block co-polymers in varying proportions.
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. They could be used to create new, anti-counterfeit devices on passports or banknotes.
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. The image to the left shows the range of colours that can be made by mixing the two block copolymers in varying proportions.
“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.”
Professor Nick Terrill, Principal Beamline Scientist for I22, the Diamond laboratory used for the experiment
'Continuously tuneable optical filters from self-assembled block copolymer blends’
Andrew J. Parnell, Andrew Pryke, Oleksandr O. Mykhaylyk, Jonathan R. Howse, Ali. M. Adawi, Nicholas J. Terrill and J. Patrick A. Fairclough
Soft Matter, 2011, 7, 3721-3725
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