Structural coloration achieves precision light control through 3D printing technology.

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Breaking News: Revolutionary 3D Printing Technology Unleashes the Power of Nature’s Colors

Nature is a never-ending source of inspiration for scientists and inventors, and now, a groundbreaking technology has harnessed the beauty of natural colors like never before. Dr. Jaeyeon Pyo’s team at KERI (Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute) has developed the world’s first 3D printing technology that can be used in transparent displays and AR devices. By implementing the physical phenomenon of chameleon’s changing skin color or peacock’s beautiful feather color, this innovation opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

The incredible breakthrough lies in the team’s ability to create a three-dimensional diffraction grating using nanoscale 3D printing technology. This novel approach allows scientists to precisely control the path of light, replicating the principle of structural color observed in nature. The research conducted by Dr. Pyo’s team was even published as a cover article in ACS Nano, cementing its importance in the scientific community.

So, how does it work? When light encounters a microstructure at the wavelength level, it diffracts and changes its path. The microstructure’s regularity enables specific wavelengths of light to undergo strong reflection, resulting in distinct colors known as “structural color.” Chameleons and peacocks, for example, do not rely on multiple pigments to create their vibrant hues. Instead, their colors emerge from changes in the microstructure, which produce structural colors.

KERI’s breakthrough lies in the realization of a “diffraction grating” that can precisely control structural color using nanoscale 3D printing technology. A diffraction grating is a device with a regularly arranged microstructure designed to control the diffraction of light. When light is shined on it, the wavelength determines the path the light takes, creating a specific color or spectrum. In essence, this technology enables vivid coloration without the need for dyes, offering a whole new level of precision.

Controlling the diffraction of light at such a minuscule level required a very fine diffraction grating, even smaller than a human hair’s thickness. Leveraging their expertise in nanoscale 3D printing technology, KERI succeeded in printing high-density nanowire diffraction gratings using a new approach called “lateral printing.” This technique involves moving the 3D printing nozzle in a sewing-like motion to print the bridge-shaped microstructures. The result is a diffraction grating with unparalleled precision and density.

The applications for this technology are extensive. The transparent nature of the diffraction grating makes it ideal for future transparent displays, such as smart windows, mirrors, and heads-up displays in cars. Moreover, it can enhance the capabilities of AR devices that already utilize diffraction gratings as a key component. Engineers and researchers can even design diffraction gratings to emit different colors depending on their deformation, opening up opportunities in mechanical engineering and biomedical applications.

Dr. Jaeyeon Pyo of KERI believes that this 3D printing technology defies the limitations of traditional display devices, offering boundless possibilities for shaping the future of technology. In his words, it is “the world’s first 3D printing technology that accurately implements the desired structural color in the desired location without restrictions on the material or shape of the substrate.” With a patent application filed, KERI anticipates widespread interest from display-related companies and aims to facilitate technology transfer to those in need of this revolutionary innovation.

In a world where innovation and scientific advancements shape our everyday lives, this breakthrough in 3D printing technology stands out as a testament to human ingenuity. By harnessing nature’s own colorful marvels, scientists have unlocked the potential to create vibrant, precise displays and devices that were once thought to be out of reach. As we venture further into the realm of technological possibilities, one thing is clear: the future is colorful, and it’s here to stay.

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