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Researchers Create Color-Tunable Photonic Fibers

Scientists from Harvard University and the University of Exeter—with contributions from Ludwig Maximilians University and University of Cambridge researchers—have developed a biologically inspired photonic fiber that changes color as it is stretched. The fiber consists of multiple polymer layers placed around a glass core, which is later etched away. The layers’ thickness, which changes with stretching, determines the fiber’s color. The researchers based their approach on the Margaritaria nobilis (or bastard hogberry) plant, known for its iridescent blue color caused by its complex surface structure. The researchers used a rolling technique to make the fibers. They say this will make large-scale manufacturing practical. The technology may initially be used to create smart fabrics for use in sporting applications, such as fabrics that would change color in response to muscle tension in the athlete wearing the garment. It would also be used to sense when an object is being strained as a result of heat. (EurekAlert)(Harvard University)

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