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Painting in 3D: Structural Colour in Nature

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Peacock feathers, opals and many butterfly wings create their intense iridescent colouring in a special way, distinct from the pigments that typically colour the things around us. Nature has found ways of crafting delicate nanostructures that interact with light to produce colours that are not only brighter but can also change when seen from different angles. These structures control the flow of light and have numerous technological applications. However, some of these naturally occurring structures are so intricate that we do not yet know how to build them synthetically. This talk will give an introduction to where structural colour appears in Nature, as well as what can be learned from the way such nanostructures form.

Bio: Michelle Rigozzi is a PhD candidate at Pembroke College. A graduate of Physics and Mathematics from the University of Sydney, Australia, she undertook a summer placement at the Natural History Museum in London, investigating the breadth of mechanisms that produce structural colour. Her undergraduate dissertations then focused on modelling the mechanics and self-assembly of these natural photonic structures. Her PhD research is also in biophysics, but she now models the mechanisms used by cells to detect their mechanical environment.

This talk is part of the Pembroke Papers, Pembroke College series.

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