skip to content

Professor of Chemistry and Bio-materials

Photonic structures in Nature and Bio-mimetic Materials

Research Interests

Photonic structures in nature

Colour in nature is everywhere: animals and plants develop structures on sub-micrometer scale to manipulate light and to obtain brilliant and iridescent colours. This kind of colouration, named structural since it is not obtained using pigmentation, results from various mechanisms, including multilayered materials, crystalline inclusions and surface diffraction gratings. Pollia condensata fruits are one of the most striking examples of  strong iridescent colouration in plants. The colour is caused by Bragg-reflection of helicoidally stacked cellulose microfibrils, which form multilayers in the cell walls of the epicarp. The bright blue colour of this fruit is more intense than that of many previously described biological materials. Uniquely in nature, the reflected colour differs from cell to cell, as the layer thicknesses in the multilayer stack vary, giving the fruit a striking pixelated or ’pointillist’ appearance.

PNAS 109, 15712–15715, (2012)

 

Another striking example is the white of the Cyphochilus beetle which is native to South-East Asia, is whiter than paper, thanks to ultra-thin scales which cover its body. A new investigation of the optical properties of these scales has shown that they are able to scatter light more efficiently than any other biological tissue known, which is how they are able to achieve such a bright whiteness.

Scientific Reports 4, 6075 doi:10.1038/srep06075 (2014)

Funding

  1. BBSRC David Phillips fellowship
  2. Next Generation fellowship
  3. Isaac Newton Trust

Watch Professor Vignolini discuss her research

Selected Publications

[1] Pointillist structural colour in Pollia fruit

S. Vignolini, P. J. Rudall, A. V. Rowland, A. Reed, E. Moyroud, R. B. Faden, J. J. Baumberg, B. J. Glover, U. Steiner; PNAS 109, 15712–15715, (2012). 

[2] Controlled bio-inspired self-assembly of cellulose-based chiral reflectors 

A. G. Dumanli, G. Kamita, J. Landman, H. van der Kooij, B. J. Glover, J. J. Baumberg, U Steiner, S. Vignolini;  Adv. Opt. Mat. DOI: 10.1002/adom.201400112  (2014)
 

[3]Bright-White Beetle scales Optimise Multiple Scattering of Light

M. Burresi, L. Cortese, L. Pattelli, M. Kolle, P.Vukusic, D. Wiersma, U. Steiner, and S.Vignolini; Scientific Reports 4, 6075 doi:10.1038/srep06075 (2014)

 

Publications

Cellulose photonic pigments.
RM Parker, TH Zhao, B Frka-Petesic, S Vignolini
– Nature communications
(2022)
13,
3378
Revealing the Structural Coloration of Self-Assembled Chitin Nanocrystal Films
A Narkevicius, RM Parker, J Ferrer-Orri, TG Parton, Z Lu, GT van de Kerkhof, B Frka-Petesic, S Vignolini
– Adv Mater
(2022)
e2203300
Polysaccharide metabolism regulates structural colour in bacterial colonies
GT van de Kerkhof, L Schertel, L Catòn, TG Parton, KH Müller, HF Greer, CJ Ingham, S Vignolini
– Journal of the Royal Society, Interface
(2022)
19,
20220181
Convergent evolution of disordered lipidic structural colour in the fruits of Lantana strigocamara (syn. L. camara hybrid cultivar).
MA Sinnott-Armstrong, Y Ogawa, GT van de Kerkhof, S Vignolini, SD Smith
– New Phytologist
(2022)
Chiral self-assembly of cellulose nanocrystals is driven by crystallite bundles
TG Parton, RM Parker, GTVD Kerkhof, A Narkevicius, JS Haataja, B Frka-Petesic, S Vignolini
– Nature Communications
(2022)
13,
2657
Cellulose-based Scattering Enhancers for Light Management Applications
H Yang, G Jacucci, L Schertel, S Vignolini
– ACS nano
(2022)
16,
7373
The Limited Palette for Photonic Block‐Copolymer Materials: A Historical Problem or a Practical Limitation?
Z Wang, CLC Chan, RM Parker, S Vignolini
– Angewandte Chemie
(2022)
134,
The Limited Palette for Photonic Block‐Copolymer Materials: A Historical Problem or a Practical Limitation?
Z Wang, C Chan, R Parker, S Vignolini
– Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
(2022)
61,
e202117275
3D-printed hierarchical pillar array electrodes for high-performance semi-artificial photosynthesis.
X Chen, JM Lawrence, LT Wey, L Schertel, Q Jing, S Vignolini, CJ Howe, S Kar-Narayan, JZ Zhang
– Nature materials
(2022)
1
Current international research into cellulose as a functional nanomaterial for advanced applications
SJ Eichhorn, A Etale, J Wang, LA Berglund, Y Li, Y Cai, C Chen, ED Cranston, MA Johns, Z Fang, G Li, L Hu, M Khandelwal, KY Lee, K Oksman, S Pinitsoontorn, F Quero, A Sebastian, MM Titirici, Z Xu, S Vignolini, B Frka-Petesic
– Journal of Materials Science
(2022)
57,
5697
  • 1 of 17
  • >