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Reconfiguring colours of single relief structures by directional stretching
preprintposted on 2023-01-12, 13:55 authored by Qifeng Ruan, Wang Zhang, Hao Wang, John You En Chan, Hongtao Wang, Hailong Liu, Dianyuan Fan, Ying Li, Cheng-Wei Qiu, Joel K. W. Yang
Colour changes can be achieved by straining photonic crystals or gratings embedded in stretchable materials. However, the multiple repeat units and the need for a volumetric assembly of nanostructures limit the density of information content. Inspired by surface reliefs on oracle bones and music records as means of information archival, here we endow surface-relief elastomers with multiple sets of information that are accessible by mechanical straining along in-plane axes. Distinct from Bragg diffraction effects from periodic structures, we report trenches that generate colour due to variations in trench depth, enabling individual trench segments to support a single colour. Using 3D printed cuboids, we replicated trenches of varying geometric parameters in elastomers. These parameters determine the initial colour (or lack thereof), the response to capillary forces, and the appearance when strained along or across the trenches. Strain induces modulation in trench depth or the opening and closure of a trench, resulting in surface reliefs with up to six distinct states, and an initially featureless surface that reveals two distinct images when stretched along different axes. The highly reversible structural colours are promising in optical data archival, anti-counterfeiting, and strain-sensing applications.