Engineering Dynamic Structural Color Pixels at Microscales by Inhomogeneous Strain-Induced Localized Topographic Change
Ke, Y., Ruan, Q., Li, Y., Wang, H., Wang, H., Zhang, W., … Yang, J. K. W. (2023, June 8). NANO LETTERS.
Structural colors in homogeneous elastomeric materials predominantly exhibit uniform color changes under applied strains. However, juxtaposing mechanochromic pixels that exhibit distinct responses to applied strain remains challenging, especially on the microscale where the demand for miscellaneous spectral information increases. Here, we present a method to engineer microscale switchable color pixels by creating localized inhomogeneous strain fields at the level of individual microlines. Trenches produced by transfer casting from 2.5D structures into elastomers exhibit a uniform structural color in the unstretched state due to interference and scattering effects, while they show different colors under an applied uniaxial strain. This programmable topographic change resulting in color variation arises from strain mismatch between layers and trench width. We utilized this effect to achieve the encryption of text strings with Morse code. The effective and facile design principle is promising for diverse optical devices based on dynamic structures and topographic changes.