Multifaceted Structurally Coloured Materials: Diffraction and Total Internal Reflection (TIR) from Nanoscale Surface Wrinkling

Molecules. 2023 Feb 10;28(4):1710. doi: 10.3390/molecules28041710.


We investigate the combined effects of surface diffraction and total internal reflection (TIR) in the design of 3-dimensional materials exhibiting distinct structural colour on various facets. We employ mechanical wrinkling to introduce surface diffraction gratings (from the nano to the micron scales) on one face of an elastomeric rectangular parallelepiped-shaped slab and explore the roles, in the perceived colours, of wrinkling pattern, wavelength, the directionality of incident light and observation angles. We propose a simple model that satisfactorily accounts for all experimental observations. Employing polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), which readily swells in the presence of various liquids and gases, we demonstrate that such multifaceted colours can respond to their environment. By coupling a right angle triangular prism with a surface grating, we demonstrate the straightforward fabrication of a so-called GRISM (GRating + prISM). Finally, using a range of examples, we outline possibilities for a predictive material design using multi-axial wrinkling patterns and more complex polyhedra.

Keywords: GRISM; diffraction; multiaxial; multifaceted; plasma oxidation; polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS); polyhedra; structural colour; total internal reflection (TIR); wrinkling.

MeSH terms

  • Elasticity
  • Gases*


  • Gases