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Dr Silvia Vignoli on nature’s most vivid colours and what we can learn from them

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Join us to welcome Dr Silvia Vignoli who will talk about her work on cellulose photonics and how we can learn from nature when it comes to applications.

Cellulose Photonics: from nature to applications

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. A recurring strategy design that is found both in the animal and plant kingdoms for producing such effects is helicoidal multilayers. 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 the distance between such planes is comparable to the wavelength of light, a strong polarised, colour selective response can be obtained. These helicoidal multilayers are generally structured on the microscopic and macroscopic scale, giving rise to complex hierarchical structures enriching their visual appearance.

Biomimetic cellulose-based architectures enables us to fabricate novel photonic structures using low cost materials in ambient conditions. 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.

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This talk is part of the Lucy Cavendish Talks series.

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