Realizing Vibrant and High-Contrast Reflective Structural Colors from Lossy Metals Supporting Dielectric Gratings

Youngji Kim, Kyungmin Jung, Jiung Cho, Jerome K. Hyun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Despite their distinctive chemical properties, lossy metals are generally avoided in the design of structural colors because the optical losses can degrade the color vibrancy. Herein, we demonstrate a strategy that allows lossy metals supporting near-wavelength dielectric gratings to achieve high color vibrancy by benefiting from the optical loss rather than suffering from it. By exciting the grating rotated 45° relative to the incident field, s-polarized (s-pol) and p-polarized (p-pol) light each excites a spectrally distinct resonance, described by a treatment of coupled waveguide-array modes, that retards the phase over the wavelength. Owing to the birefringence, a cross-polarized reflection spectrum displays two sharp peaks from each component that decreases the monochromaticity. We show that lossy metals can minimize the p-pol contribution, leaving the sharp s-pol response to determine the spectrum and generate high color vibrancy. Through this scheme, we demonstrate that lossy metal substrates including Pt, a catalytically active metal, and W, a CMOS-compatible metal, can achieve larger sRGB gamut coverage ratios of 90% and 69%, respectively, than that of 55% from Ag, while maintaining similar pixel contrast ratios to that of Ag.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10717-10726
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number9
StatePublished - 24 Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.


  • coupled waveguide-array modes
  • lossy metals
  • near-wavelength grating
  • structural colors
  • vibrant colors


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