Butterfly wing paint shines in magnetic field

[ScienceNology] - Korean scientists have managed to produce coloring by applying magnetic field to a nanoparticle suspension.

The way it works is unlike pigments commonly used in printing, cosmetics and a number of different applications. Instead, Sunghoon Kwon's team at Seoul National University, South Korea, created nanostructures similar to those giving iridescent coloring to butterfly wings. Melanin rods are aligned in a pattern, which interferes with white light altering the color.

Researchers used a similar solution – particles 100 to 200 nanometers across suspended in a resin. When a magnetic field is applied to the material, the particles align themselves in chains along with magnetic field lines, reports New Scientist.

Since the size of the gaps between chains is comparable to visible light waves, the grating produces a particular color. The color may be changed by varying the field intensity, and thus the spacing of the nanoparticle chains.

Then the colored surface is fixed by irradiation with UV light, which cures the resin. Shining UV on just part of the surface and then altering the magnetic field allows the production of multicolored pictures.

"You can pattern A4-size full-color prints within a second," says Kwon, adding that the prototype system the team used is slower.

A Science News from RussiaToday , 25 August 2009

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