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Bio-inspired Photonics


Cellulose Nanocrystals Self-Assembly

Biological photonic structures, optimized over millennia by the rigorous process of evolution, can provide broad inspiration for novel artificial, multifunctional photonic materials. The most brilliant and striking colours in nature are, in fact, obtained without the use of any pigments, but rather by nanostructuring transparent materials. For example, in plants, colour can be obtained using only cellulose. By periodically arranging cellulose nanofibres in the cell wall, different plant species obtain incredibly vivid colours across the entire visible spectrum, from the deepest violet to the most intense red. We aim to use cellulose as a new photonic material in order to produce structures ranging from photonic crystals to completely random structures, providing materials with strong colouration and ultra-white responses, respectively. Such materials will find highly sustainable uses in everyday life, such as security labelling or artificial pigments. Moreover, mimicking natural photonic structures, using the same materials that are involved in nature, unveils information regarding the mysterious processes of the natural development of plant cells.
Picture of a cellulose-coloured film and its optical appearance under a microscope in epi-illumination configuration.

Related Publications 

The Self-Assembly of Cellulose Nanocrystals: Hierarchical Design of Visual Appearance.
RM Parker, G Guidetti, CA Williams, T Zhao, A Narkevicius, S Vignolini, B Frka-Petesic – Adv Mater (2018) 30, e1704477
Controlling the Photonic Properties of Cholesteric Cellulose Nanocrystal Films with Magnets
B Frka-Petesic, G Guidetti, G Kamita, S Vignolini – Advanced Materials (2017) 29, 1701469
Shape Memory Cellulose-Based Photonic Reflectors.
A Espinha, G Guidetti, MC Serrano, B Frka-Petesic, AG Dumanli, WY Hamad, Á Blanco, C López, S Vignolini – ACS Appl Mater Interfaces (2016) 8, 31935
Hierarchical Self-Assembly of Cellulose Nanocrystals in a Confined Geometry.
RM Parker, B Frka-Petesic, G Guidetti, G Kamita, G Consani, C Abell, S Vignolini – ACS Nano (2016) 10, 8443