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Acc Chem Res. 2009 Jan 20;42(1):1-10. doi: 10.1021/ar700197v.

Structural color films with lotus effects, superhydrophilicity, and tunable stop-bands.

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  • 1Institute for Materials Chemistry and Engineering, Kyushu University, 6-1 Kasuga-koen, Kasuga, Fukuoka, 816-8580, Japan. sato@cm.kyushu-u.ac.jp


The structural blue color of a Morpho butterfly originates from the diffraction of light and interference effects due to the presence of the microstructures on the wing of the butterfly. Structural color on the surface of a damselfish reversibly changes between green and blue. Inspired by these creatures, we have been trying to prepare high-quality and functional structural color films. We describe our efforts in this Account. A useful technique to prepare such structural color films in colloidal solution is a "lifting" method, which allows us to quickly fabricate brilliant colloidal crystal films. The thicknesses of the films can be controlled by precisely adjusting the particle concentration and the lifting speed. Moreover, in order to prepare a complicated structure, we have used template methods. Indeed, we have successfully prepared the inverse structure of the wing of a Morpho butterfly with this technique. Initially, however, our structural color films had a whitish appearance due to the scattering of light by defects in the colloidal crystal film. Later, we were able to prepare a non-whitish structural color film by doping an appropriate dye in the colloidal particles to absorb the scattering light. In addition to the structural blue color, the wing of the Morpho butterfly has superhydrophobic properties. According to Wenzel's equation, the hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties are enhanced when the roughness of the hydrophobic and hydrophilic surface is increased, respectively. Based on this mechanism, we have successfully prepared structural color films with superhydrophobic properties, as well as with superhydrophilic properties. Another important property that can be seen in nature is tunable structural color, such as the color change that can be seen on the surface of a damselfish. In order to mimic such color change, we have developed several tunable structural color films. In particular, we have successfully prepared phototunable photonic crystals using photoresponsive azobenzene derivatives. In order to apply these structural color films, we developed a technique for patterning them by taking advantage of the wettability of the substrate surface. These materials can be used in the future for self-cleaning pigments and tunable photonic crystals.

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