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Elastomeric Photonics

These sort of techniques are highly suited to industrial scale manufacture of structural colour films. Such films can be coated around objects, or stretched to form optical cavities that trap particular colours of light.

StretchDBRFoldingColours can be produced by absorption from dyes (as in our clothes and possessions) or the selective reflection of specific colours of light inside structures on the same size as the wavelength of light. Multilayers made from alternately stacking two transparent materials around a tenth of a micron thick give this effect, reflecting a band of colours depending on the exact layers dimensions. However such structures cannot be tuned easily.

StretchDBRBy using two different transparent rubber polymers that can be precisely coated on top of each other, we make large area sheets of double layers that can then be stacked to form multilayers in a number of ways once they have been floated free onto the surface of water. The double sheets can be cut and stacked, or folded on top of each other, or rolled up into a tube.

StretchDBRHolesBeyond 10 double layers, the films gain a strong colour in reflection. Because the films are elastic, they can be stretched and since this changes the layer thicknesses, the films change colour. We have made red films which can be reversibly extended by >50% tuning right into the blue.


[1] M. Kolle et al. , Optics Express ,  (2009)