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September 14th, 2007
A new flexible polymer opal has defied the conventional explanation for colour generation in opals, a recent study reports.
Researchers at the University of Southampton, UK, and Deutsches Kunststoff-Institut (DKI) in Darmstadt, Germany, have created a polymer opal, so-called because of the regular arrangement of polystyrene spheres that make up its micro-structure, that they believe has scaling-up potential. In contrast, natural opals are made from stacked silica spheres.
The project, led by Professor Jeremy Baumberg of Southampton, developed a self-assembling process to produce the film.
In a departure from previous methods, the team fabricated the film by compressing a polymer melt, which, through shear-flow alignment, created the ordered arrangement, or lattice*, of core-shell nanospheres.
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