Plasmonic pixels can be used to make images that do not fade over time
The colors of images tend to fade over time and it is difficult to bring them in back in full vividness.
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Now, researchers from Melbourne University have demonstrated a technique that can produce a full-color optical response over macroscopic scale and could pave the way for non-fading paint technology in future.
The colors are created with a new plasmonic pixel design that involves an array of aluminum nanorods. To produce a specific color, free electrons in a metal are collectively vibrated at specific frequencies. The length of nanorods determines the color while gap between each nanorod is used for determining the intensity of the color.
The new plasmonic pixel design can produce nearly 2000 different colors and achieves the resolution that is not possible to see with human eye. The plasmonic pixel design not only produces bright and non-fading colors but is capable of solving a number of problems associated with plasmonic color images including limited colors, small image size and creating accurate colors without using complex algorithms.
To demonstrate, researches produced a 1.5 cm long image and showed how colors can be reproduced accurately with a straightforward color-mapping algorithm.
The technology is not just limited to creating images but it has implications in a number of fields.
“The potential applications for the plasmonic pixel (and other color-producing nanostructures in this research space) would be as an industrial paint on cars, buildings, advertising billboards, etc., as the plasmonic pixels will never fade,” said co-researcher Timothy James. “With the ability to print at resolution greater than conventional pigment-based processes, the plasmonic pixels may also have applications in security-based devices for use on high-value product packaging, medicines etc.”
Other plasmonic structures that are already used in many ways also follow the same principles but they have limitations while the new aluminum plasmonic design is more suitable for large-scale applications and is relatively low cost. Plus, the direction of the light waves can also be switched on and off on desire which makes it possible to introduce new colors in the images.
Researchers are aiming to improve the technology so it can be utilized practically for a wide range of purposes in future.
The study was published in Nano Letters.