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Materials

Chemistry in Pictures: Stretchy structural color

by Craig Bettenhausen
January 7, 2020

Credit: Laboratory of Soft & Wet Matter at Hokkaido University

The Laboratory of Soft & Wet matter at Hokkaido University is pushing the materials properties of various wet gels. The gel shown here uses “structural color” principles to scan through the visible spectrum as it stretches. The researchers say that the microscopic structure reminds them of tamagoyaki, a type of Japanese rolled-layer omelet. As the submicron-thick layers of the gel slide past each other under mechanical strain (that is, as they’re being stretched), liquid crystals embedded in the matrix change alignment and thereby change their interactions with light. In addition to stretching, compressing the gel also produces color changes. The material could find applications in sensors and art.

Credit: Laboratory of Soft & Wet Matter at Hokkaido University

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