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Cellulose Photonics: from nature to applications

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Nature’s most vivid colours rely on the ability to produce complex and hierarchical photonic structures with lattice constants on the order of the wavelength of visible radiation [1]. A recurring strategy design that is found both in the animal and plant kingdoms for producing such effects is the helicoidal multilayers [2,3]. In such structures, a series of individual nano-fibers (made of natural polymers as cellulose and chitin) are arranged parallel to each other in stacked planes. When distance between such planes is comparable to the wavelength of light, a strong polarised, colour selective response can be obtained [4]. These helicoidal multilayers are generally structured on the micro-scale and macroscopic scale, giving rise to complex hierarchical structures enriching their visual appearance.

Biomimetic with cellulose-based architectures enables us to fabricate novel photonic structures using low cost materials in ambient conditions [5-7]. Importantly, it also allows us to understand the biological processes at work during the growth of these structures in plants. In this talk the route for the fabrication of complex bio-mimetic cellulose-based photonic structures will be presented and the optical properties of artificial structures will be analyzed and compared with the natural ones

[1] Kinoshita, S. et al. (2008). Physics of structural colors. Rep. Prog. Phys. 71(7), 076401. [2] Vignolini, S. et al. (2012). Pointillist structural color in Pollia fruit PNAS 109 , 15712-15716. [3] Wilts, B. D, et al. (2014). Natural Helicoidal Structures: Morphology, Self-assembly and Optical Properties. Materials Today: Proceedings, 1, 177–185. [4] de Vries, H. (1951). Rotatory power and other optical properties of certain liquid crystals. Acta Cryst., 4(3), 219–226. [5] Dumanli, A. G., et al. (2014). Controlled, Bio-inspired Self-Assembly of Cellulose-Based Chiral Reflectors. Adv. Opt Mat., 2(7), 646–650. [6] Parker R. et al. (2016). Hierarchical Self-Assembly of Cellulose Nanocrystals in a Confined Geometry ACS Nano, 2016, 10 (9), 8443–8449 [7] Kamita G. et al. (2016). Biocompatible and Sustainable Optical Strain Sensors for Large-Area Applications Adv. Opt. Mat. DOI : 10.1002/adom.201600451.

This talk is part of the Engineering - Mechanics and Materials Seminar Series series.

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