As Daphne mentioned in her previous blog posts (1, 2), her research is about an optical phenomenon in biological systems known as “structural colors.” My research is also related to structural colors (I’ll discuss my research topic in more detail in a future blog post); therefore, I pay attention to technological applications and developments in the field as well. When I read this article several days ago, my jaw dropped.
Morphotonix has invented a new fabrication process that enables structural colors to be created on the surface of any product made by injection-moulding. It’s quite an achievement, considering structural colors are created by surface nanostructures at sub-micron to micrometer scale. It’s not just difficult to make a master mould with those surface nanostructures on it, but even more difficult to make sure those nanostructures are faithfully transferred to the final products during the injection moulding process. If you still aren’t impressed, consider how hard it must have been to invent a process whereby you can un-mould a product from the master mould without destroying the surface nanostructures. Even more surprising is the material Morphotonix chose to demonstrate their technology – chocolate. It’s definitely a win for consumers, who can now buy aesthetically pleasing (colorful) chocolate without consuming any artificial food dyes. You can read about the risks related to consuming food dyes here. How on earth did they come up with this idea?!! Does anyone know what the refractive index of chocolate is? :p Not to mention chocolate tends to melt and you would think that would destroy the surface nanostructures…how does Morphotonix prevent this from happening?
Anyway, Morphotonix is definitely a company that you should keep an eye on in the future. Hopefully it won’t be long before “structurally-colored” chocolate is out on the shelves of every convenience store so we can buy them up for ourselves and as gifts for others.