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Bio-inspired structural colors produced via self-assembly of synthetic melanin nanoparticles

TitleBio-inspired structural colors produced via self-assembly of synthetic melanin nanoparticles
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsXiao M., Li Y.W, Allen M.C, Deheyn DD, Yue X.J, Zhao J.Z, Gianneschi N.C, Shawkey M.D, Dhinojwala A.
JournalAcs Nano
Date Published2015/05
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1936-0851
Accession NumberWOS:000355383000082
Keywordsbio-inspired; biomimicry; black; coloration; evolution; feathers; melanin; pigments; polydopamine; refractive-index; structural colors; thin-films

Structural colors arising from interactions of light with submicron scale periodic structures have been found in many species across all taxa, serving multiple biological functions including sexual signaling, camouflage, and aposematism. Directly inspired by the extensive use of self-assembled melanosomes to produce colors in avian feathers, we set out to synthesize and assemble polydopamine-based synthetic melanin nanoparticles in an effort to fabricate colored films. We have quantitatively demonstrated that synthetic melanin nanoparticles have a high refractive index and broad absorption spanning across the UV-visible range, similar to natural melanins. Utilizing a thin-film interference model, we demonstrated the coloration mechanism of deposited films and showed that the unique optical properties of synthetic melanin nanoparticles provide advantages for structural colors over other polymeric nanoparticles (i.e., polystyrene colloidal particles).

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