Rice researchers discover nanoscale method to change colors

Rice University researchers have discovered a way of linking nanoscale metal particles to create speedy and dramatic changes of color.

The findings use a "drawbridge" between small particles of gold that scatter different shades of light. The method is inspired by a medieval method used by stained-glass makers to create certain colors in their windows.

“Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could create stained-glass windows that changed colors at the flip of a switch?” Christy Landes, associate professor of chemistry, said. “This is the first method yet demonstrated to produce dramatic, reversible color changes for devices built from light-activated nanoparticles.”

Landes said other researchers have demonstrated the theory behind the nanoparticle drawbridge method, but none has successfully documented its ability to change color and reverse that change. Rice officials said the implications of the findings could be big news for electronics manufacturers who are increasingly interested in rapid, smaller-scale ways of changing color on display screens.

A study about the drawbridge method developed by Landes and her team was published last week in the journal Science Advances. The research was funded by several organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the Welch Foundation, the American Chemical Society, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the Smalley-Curl Institute.

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