UC San Diego SearchMenu

For journalists

Nanomaterials inspired by bird feathers play with light to create color

African starling. Credit Liliana D'Alba

Credit Liliana D'Alba. Minuscule packets of melanin sandwiched between the keratin of this African starling's feathers interact with light to produce brilliant iridescent color. These structures inspired the creation of new materials made of nanoparticles of synthetic melanin that create a range of pure hues depending on their structural arrangement. High resolution image at http://physicalsciences.edu/press/starling.jpg


colorful films of synthetic melaninOptical image of thin films of synthetic melanin nanoparticles. Hue varies with the thickness and packing density of the particles. 


Scanning electron micrographs of films made from nanoparticles of polydopamine seen in cross section.Scanning electron micrographs of films made from nanoparticles of polydopamine seen in cross section. The top film produced a red hue, the bottom green.

Contacts

Susan Brown
sdbrown@ucsd.edu
(858) 246-0161

Kim McDonald
kmcdonald@ucsd.edu
(858) 534-7572

For images from older stories, please call or email one of us.