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Biopolymers for photonics - painting opals with water and light

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Light control in natural structures is a based on wondrous interplay between electromagnetic radiation and the patterns and compositions of natural materials compounded by biochemical processes that lead to spectral selectivity, reflections, diffusion, and photoconversion, to name a few. These natural strategies have offered inspiration on how to emulate their behavior and performance and considerable effort is dedicated in mimicking the structures that are ubiquitous in the world that surrounds us. In this context, a particularly interesting approach is to employ Nature’s materials to generate structures that manipulate light in controllable and efficient ways. In this talk we will review different uses and transformation of structural proteins (with specific focus on silk) to describe active and passive optical devices based on biopolymers substrates. Multiple devices, ranging from diffractive optics, photonic crystals, microresonators and lasers, will be described. The possibility of embedding seamlessly into the biopolymeric matrices biological function allows for facile fabrication and doping of photonic components that have renewed utility at the interface between biology and photonics.

This talk is part of the Materials Chemistry Research Interest Group series.

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