Could Birds Be the Key to Fade Proof Pigments?


There is a certain amount of natural deterioration of color quality that happens when using chemical color dyes and pigments over time. Either the light breaks down the chemical bonds, pigments get washed away when repeatedly cleaned or from exposure to chemical cleaners like laundry detergent. Interestingly enough, this loss of color quality is not seen in nature, particularly in the bright colored wings of birds like the parrot or the toucan.

Science has determined that these fade-proof bright hues are due to what is known as “structural color.” Unlike chemical dyes and colorings, structural color does not come from artificial pigments. Instead it is a light-reflecting pattern formed by the arrangement (or orderly structure) of nanoparticles containing the pigment melanin. Structural color does not degrade because there are no chemical pigments to degrade. It is entirely created by the orderly reflecting and refracting of light on a nanoscale.

The ability to reproduce structural color would improve color quality in both textile manufacturing, optical applications and the production of paints and ultra-violet protective coatings. Until very recently, being able to synthetically reproduce structural color had been eluding color scientists, with early polymer based nanostructure attempts falling short on color quality.

To overcome this problem, researchers used polydopamine nanoparticle to create a thin structured color film. Polydopamine is a synthetic melanin, and its use solves the hue issues of the earlier attempts by being more absorptive of light and producing a brighter hue. The arrival of a working method for producing high quality synthetic structural color could mean new possibilities in the production of coatings, paints and other color dependent products like textiles. Now color can be changed just by changing the nanostructure of the particles. This can create new coatings that change color when exposed to certain environments or a particular wavelength of light.

This is sure to have a major impact on color measurement instrumentation with a greater reliance on high-quality colorimeters that can take precise readings and get measurable and reliable results. Konica Minolta has a number of colorimeters and reflectance meters able to get you the color measurement data you need.

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