Structural color

Structural colors are colors caused by interference effects rather than by pigments. Color effects are produced when a material is scored with fine parallel lines, formed of one or more parallel thin layers, or otherwise composed of microstructures on the scale of the color's wavelength. If the microstructures are spaced randomly, light of shorter wavelengths will be scattered preferentially to produce Tyndall effect colors: the blue of the sky (Rayleigh scattering, caused by structures much smaller than the wavelength of light, in this case air molecules), the luster of opals, and the blue of human irises. If the microstructures are aligned in arrays, for example the array of pits in a CD, they behave as a diffraction grating: the grating reflects different wavelengths in different directions due to interference phenomena, separating mixed "white" light into light of different wavelengths. If the structure is one or more thin layers then it will reflect some wavelengths and transmit others, depending on the layers' thickness. Structural color is studied in the field of thin-film optics. A layman's term that describes particularly the most ordered or the most changeable structural colors is iridescence. Structural color is responsible for the blues and greens of the feathers of many birds (the blue jay, for example), as well as certain butterfly wings and beetle shells. Variations in the pattern's spacing often give rise to an iridescent effect, as seen in peacock feathers, soap bubbles, films of oil, and mother of pearl, because the reflected color depends upon the viewing angle. Numerous scientists have carried out research in butterfly wings and beetle shells, including Isaac Newton and Robert Hooke. Since 1942

electron micrography has been used, advancing the development of products that exploit structural color, such as "photonic" cosmetics. The Tyndall effect, also known as Tyndall scattering, is light scattering by particles in a colloid or particles in a fine suspension. It is named after the 19th century physicist John Tyndall. It is similar to Rayleigh scattering, in that the intensity of the scattered light depends on the fourth power of the frequency, so blue light is scattered much more strongly than red light. An example in everyday life is the blue colour sometimes seen in the smoke emitted by motorcycles, particularly two stroke machines where the burnt engine oil provides the particles. Under the Tyndall effect, the longer-wavelength light is more transmitted while the shorter-wavelength light is more reflected via scattering. An analogy to this wavelength dependency is that longwave electromagnetic waves such as radio waves are able to pass through the walls of buildings, while shortwave electromagnetic waves such as light waves are stopped and reflected by the walls. The Tyndall effect is seen when light-scattering particulate-matter is dispersed in an otherwise light-transmitting medium, when the cross-section of an individual particulate is the range of roughly between 40 and 900 nanometers, i.e., somewhat below or near the wavelength of visible light (400Ц750 nanometers). The Tyndall effect is commercially exploited to determine the size and density of particles in aerosols and other colloidal matter; see ultramicroscope and turbidimeter. Tyndall scattering is similar to mie scattering without the restriction to spherical geometry. It is particularly applicable to colloidal mixtures and suspensions