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COLORFUL RESEARCH AT ARC COULD PAINT A ROSY PICTURE FOR BUSINESS

What do the incredible color of a butterfly's wings and aluminum foil have in common? Nothing, yet. But thanks to research done at Old Dominion University's Applied Research Center, aluminum -- and other -- products could be produced with the same saturated, brilliant color that are now the trademark of butterflies around the world.

A collaboration between ODU and Alcoa Corportations' Packaging Technology Center and conducted by ARC director Mool Gupta, the research confirmed that butterflies' color comes not from pigments but from interference effects caused by the wing's physical microstructure. By imitating the structure, researchers have possibly created a new technology for color reproduction, offering an alternative to traditional surface finishes such as paints and dyes.

"We started examining butterfly wings using electron microscopy and we learned how complex the structures are and difficult to fabricate," said Mool Gupta, director of ARC and lead researcher for the project. "So we came up with a new approach...as a means to achieve color."

The research has been profiled by trade publications Optics, Industrial Physicist, Laser Focus World, Materials Research Society and New Scientist.

This article was posted on: February 18, 2004

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