Mechanism of structural colors in binary mixtures of nanoparticle-based supraballs

CM Heil and A Patil and B Vanthournout and S Singla and M Bleuel and JJ Song and ZY Hu and NC Gianneschi and MD Shawkey and SK Sinha and A Jayaraman and A Dhinojwala, SCIENCE ADVANCES, 9, eadf2859 (2023).

DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adf2859

Inspired by structural colors in avian species, various synthetic strategies have been developed to produce noniridescent, saturated colors using nanoparticle assemblies. Nanoparticle mixtures varying in particle chemistry and size have additional emergent properties that affect the color produced. For complex multicomponent systems, understanding the assembled structure and a robust optical modeling tool can empower scientists to identify structure-color relationships and fabricate designer materials with tailored color. Here, we demonstrate how we can reconstruct the assembled structure from small-angle scattering measurements using the computational reverse-engineering analysis for scattering experiments method and use the reconstructed structure in finite-difference time-domain calculations to predict color. We successfully, quantitatively predict experimentally observed color in mixtures containing strongly absorbing nanoparticles and demonstrate the influence of a single layer of segregated nanoparticles on color produced. The versatile computational approach that we present is useful for engineering synthetic materials with desired colors without laborious trial-anderror experiments.

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