Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SeSaMe (Sustainable routes for Smart photonic Materials)
Periodo di rendicontazione: 2018-10-01 al 2020-03-31
Hierarchical natural architectures producing bright colorations have been studied extensively in the lasts decades mainly because of their fascinating optical response and their biological relevance. However, the mechanisms regulating the interaction of materials underpinning the formation of such structures are still not known. Within this project we try to problem and to understand the development and fabrication of such structures in nature by studying their chemical composition and the physical interactions between the materials which compose them. In parallel, harnessing this knowledge, we exploit the same natural materials (such as cellulose as chitin) to fabricate bio-inspired and bio-mimetic structures for application as pigments, sensors and devices in everyday life.
This research is extremely relevant for important for society. We desperately need more sustainable products, which are not harmful for the environment and for our society. Nature designed and optimised these materials for specific functions, if we learn these functions and the process to fabricate them, we can exploit this natural resources for a truly sustainable technology. Finding new ways to exploit natural resources (like cellulose and chitin) to produce functional materials is fundamental for the materials manufacturing of the future. Natural biopolymers are abundant in our planet and they can be extracted form waist.
Summary and Conclusions of Recent Research
Natural disordered Photonics for engineering visual appearance design.
My original approach to bio-mimetics allows me not only to take inspiration from nature to design novel materials but also to reverse-engineer the biological significance of natural architectures: one example is my work published in Nature [E. Moyroud et al. (2017) Nature, 550, 469], in which I describe how disorder in photonic structures found in flowers can lead to angular-independent reflection and showcase its biological significance for plant-insect pollination. Similarly, my work on the genetic manipulation of structural colour in bacterial colonies published in PNAS [VE Johansen et al. (2018) PNAS, 115, 2652] allowed me to directly control the colour and visual appearance of bacterial colonies by genetically modifying the bacteria motility. These results, funded by ERC-StG unlocked the possibility to produce living paints and to underpin the genotype-phenotype relationship of structural colour in a living organism for the first time. Similarly, my understating of the design principle of the highly scattering properties of the white beetle Chyphochilus [M. Burresi et al. (2014) Sci Rep 4, 7271; L. Cortese et al , (2015) Adv. Opt. Mater. 3, 1337; G. Iacucci et al. (2018) J Roy Soc Interface Focus 9, https://doi.org/10.1098/rsfs.2018.0050] catalysed the development of highly-scattering networks in my and others groups [J Syurik et al. (2018) Adv. Func. Mat. 28, 1706901; MS Toivonen et al. (2018) Adv Mat. 30, 1704050].
Engineering optical appearance with natural materials.
I established my role as a pioneer in using cellulose as a novel photonic material internationally. My work on cellulose self-assembly in microfluidic droplets [RM Parker et al. (2016) ACS Nano 10, 8443] in 2016 brought me at the forefront of this field. Similarly, I implement novel assembly techniques to make cellulose coloured films (that are usually brittles) extremely flexible [G. Guidetti et al. (2016) Adv Mat 28, 10042]. I demonstrated that it is possible to control the optical response of cellulose-based photonic films with low magnetic fields [B. Frka-Petesic et al. (2017) Adv Mat 29, 1701469], re-setting the accepted view in the field for the need of very high magnetic fields to control the alignment of cellulose nanocrystals films. The bottom-up approaches that I developed within my ERC project allowed the production of cellulose-based strain sensors [G Kamita et al. (2016) Adv Opt Mat 4, 1950] that are suitable for scale-up. An example of such large photonic sensors has been recently demonstrated [H-L Liang et al. (2018) Nat Com 9, 4632] on R2R manufacturing.
The possibility to scale up production of these materials is disruptive, as they have the potential to replace toxic colourants and additives with natural-based components. We successfully secured a PoG grant to scale up and now are setting up 2 spin-off companies. Several of these are now subject of collaboration with companies (such as L’Oreal who is sponsoring a PostDoc in my group).