Colloidal photonic crystals toward structural color palettes for security materials

Hye Soo Lee, Tae Soup Shim, Hyerim Hwang, Seung Man Yang, Shin Hyun Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

315 Scopus citations


Self-assembly of monodisperse colloidal particles into regular lattices has provided relatively simple and economical methods to prepare photonic crystals. The photonic stop band of colloidal crystals appears as opalescent structural colors, which are potentially useful for display devices, colorimetric sensors, and optical filters. However, colloidal crystals have low durability, and an undesired scattering of light makes the structures white and translucent. Moreover, micropatterning of colloidal crystals usually requires complex molding procedures, thereby limiting their practical applications. To overcome such shortcomings, we develop a pragmatic and amenable method to prepare colloidal photonic crystals with high optical transparency and physical rigidity using photocurable colloidal suspensions. The colloidal particles dispersed in a photocurable medium crystallized during capillary force-induced infiltration into a slab, and subsequent photopolymerization of the medium permanently solidifies the structures. Furthermore, conventional photolithography enables micropatterning of the crystal structures. The low index contrast between particles and matrix results in high transparency of the resultant composite structures and narrow reflection peaks, thereby enabling structural color mixing through the overlapping of distinct layers of the colloidal crystals. Multiple narrow peaks in the spectrum provide high selectivity in optical identification, thereby being potentially useful for security materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2684-2690
Number of pages7
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number13
StatePublished - 9 Jul 2013


  • colloidal crystals
  • colloids
  • lithography
  • photonic crystals
  • structural color


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