Iridescence, or sheen that shifts color depending on your viewing angle, is pretty in peacock feathers. But it's been a nuisance for engineers trying to mimic the birds' unique color mechanism to make high-resolution, reflective, color display screens.
Now, researchers at the University of Michigan have found a way to lock in so-called structural color, which is made with texture rather than chemicals. A paper on the work is published online in the current edition of the Nature journal Scientific Reports.
The researchers have developed a way to etch microscopic grooves that are so precisely measured that only specific frequencies of color are reflected. The yellow figure, for example, is made up of thousands of vertical grooves cut into a substrate. Each groove is 90 nanometers wide, and the yellow figure you see is the result of your eye blurring together the reflected light from all of the grooves.
The image at right shows a magnified view from an electron scanning microscope and should offer more detail.
The tech is only up to making static images like the one above, not anything usable as a screen on a device, but it is cool nonetheless. The research is going to continue and the team hopes to develop a way to generate the grooves while the screen is in use rather than permanently etching them into the substrate during production.