Discovering novel structural colour mechanisms with microfluidics

Lauren Zarzar

Dolomite Microfluidics’ chips are helping researchers at Pennsylvania State University to make exciting discoveries about the structural colour mechanisms of different materials, paving the way for further research into diverse applications such as colorimetric sensors and aesthetics, for example, cosmetics, coatings or paint.

Lauren Zarzar, Assistant Professor of the Department of Chemistry (pictured), explained: “We use microfluidics to investigate the properties of dynamic and responsive materials, including complex fluids and droplets. Our focus is on the use of multiphase droplets, primarily oil in water, to evaluate the optical properties of various combinations of multiple immiscible oils within an aqueous droplet. The Dolomite chips were the obvious choice for us; they are made from glass, rather than polymers, so we are not restricted in the oils that we can use.

“Particle size makes a huge difference to the optical properties of a droplet, directly affecting the colour, making a narrow size distribution incredibly important. Microfluidics allows us to control both the size and composition of our droplets, to reproducibly manufacture monodisperse particles. In contrast, droplets produced by vortex mixing are polydisperse, with a wide range of compositions and sizes.

"Before I discovered Dolomite, I made my own microfluidic devices using glass capillaries, but now I wouldn’t look back! These chips have enabled us to make exciting discoveries that we would not have had the resources to uncover otherwise, and we are looking forward to seeing where our research will take us.”

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