The brilliant blue iridescence of the Morpho Agea butterfly is the result of submicron surface structures – the wing is actually brown (Photo: Peter Ruhr)
The black opal is a dense matrix of submicron silica spheres which produce the famous "play of fire" when illuminated (Photo: Dharma Mulia)
The Bastard Hogberry was one of the inspirations for the color-changing fibers
The structure of the Bastard Hogberry under increasing magnifications, eventually revealing the source of its bright blue coloration
The appearance of the new Harvard color-change fibers, as the fiber is stretched to double its original length
Diagram of how the new Harvard fibers are made
Materials scientists at Harvard University and the University of Exeter have invented a new class of polymer fibers that change color when stretched. As is often seen in nature, the color is not the result of pigments, but rather comes from the interference of light within the multilayered fiber. Inspired by Margaritaria nobilis – also known as the Bastard Hogberry – the new fibers may lead to new forms of sensors, and possibly to smart fabrics whose color changes as the fabric is stretched, squeezed, or heated.
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