23 Feb 2017
Surrey team develops ceramics that mimic "butterfly wing" structures; with patents filed, and commercial partner identified.
The internal structure of materials and their local-self uniformity dictates their ability to diffuse absorb, reflect and transmit light. This study has been published in Nature Communications
During this study, the researchers – Marian Forescu, Steven Sellers, Weining Man and Shervin Sahba – discovered a direct relationship between the uniformity of the material’s internal structure at wavelength scales and its ability to block certain wavelengths in natural materials. They then developed a new mathematical method to measure which photonic structures best control the propagation of light – enabling the design of new materials with different functionalities dependant on need.
Lead author Marian Florescu, from the University of Surrey, commented, “It is truly amazing that what we thought was an artificial design could naturally be present in nature. This discovery will impact how we design materials in the future to manipulate their interaction with light, heat and sound.”
About the research
The major research objectives included:
The team believes that the project outputs will dramatically change the way artificial photonic materials are utilized and bring forward significant change in the field of photonic devices: light-weight photonic materials for integrated photonic-circuit architectures, as heat-rejecting window films and paints to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and vehicles, and biomimetic inspired applications including non-iridescent structural colouring.
Florescu commented, “The advantages of triamond-amorphous-enabled photonic devices include improved fabrication tolerance, layout flexibility, and isotropy, will provide a compelling case in the optical component and sub-system markets, and novel solutions for more energy- efficient materials.”
A related British patent (application no. 1601838.4) has been filed in the name of the University of Surrey, with contributing authors Steven Sellers and Marian Florescu recorded as the co-inventors. An international patent is currently also being pursued and University of Surrey is currently exploring exploitation in partnership with Etaphase Inc. to commercialize a new, substantially more compact, and more energy efficient structured material.
The project was funded by an IAA grant from University of Surrey (£9,600) and has leveraged funding from the EPSRC (United Kingdom) DTG Grant No. EP/J500562/1, EPSRC (United Kingdom) Strategic Equipment Grant No. EP/L02263X/1 (EP/M008576/1) (£1.9M) and EPSRC (United Kingdom) Grant EP/M027791/1 (£345K).
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