Scientists Develop Color-Changing Technology Inspired by Nature

A team of researchers has developed a new technology that allows colors and shapes to be displayed in real-time through changes in nanostructures.

This innovative approach, led by Professor Kang Hee Ku at UNIST and inspired by the natural phenomena observed in butterfly wings and bird feathers, has the potential to transform various fields, including smart polymer particles.

The research team utilized block copolymers, which are composed of two or more different monomers covalently bonded in a block shape, to create photonic crystal structures on a large scale through self-assembly. Professor Ku emphasized the significance of this achievement, stating,

“We have successfully generated hundreds of flawless photonic crystal structures through the autonomous organization of block copolymers, eliminating the need for external manipulation.”

Unlike traditional methods, this technology uses internal nanostructures to produce vivid, long-lasting, and sustainable colors. It also has the ability to efficiently pattern large areas, making it highly applicable in display technology.

The key innovation involves the use of a polymer that can dynamically adjust the size of microstructures within particles in response to changes in the external environment. By using polystyrene-polyvinylpyridine (PS-b-P2VP) block copolymers, the researchers can tailor the structure, shape, and color of the particles, which can revert to their original state despite environmental variations.

Real-time monitoring revealed that the size and color of micro-nanostructures adapt to changes in alcohol concentration or pH value. The particles produced through this technology have a unique ‘Ice Cream Cone’ shape structure, combining aspects of solids and liquids to visualize fluid vibrations and dynamically alter shape and color in response to external stimuli.

Professor Ku expressed confidence in the potential applications of this research, stating, “This study opens doors to the creation of self-assembling optical particles, streamlining the complex process conditions typically associated with colloidal crystal structure and pattern formation.” She also noted that the technology has practical applications in smart paint and polymer particles across various industries.

The research, published in the February 2024 issue of ACS Nano, received support from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT), and the Korea Toray Science Foundation.

#ColorChangingTechnology #NanostructureInnovation #NatureInspiredScience #SmartPolymerParticles

The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.