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Light Management with Natural Materials: From Whiteness to Transparency

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Jacucci, Gianni 
Schertel, Lukas 
Zhang, Yating 
Yang, Han 


Abstract: The possibility of structuring material at the nanoscale is essential to control light–matter interactions and therefore fabricate next‐generation paints and coatings. In this context, nature can serve not only as a source of inspiration for the design of such novel optical structures, but also as a primary source of materials. Here, some of the strategies used in nature to optimize light–matter interaction are reviewed and some of the recent progress in the production of optical materials made solely of plant‐derived building blocks is highlighted. In nature, nano‐ to micrometer‐sized structured materials made from biopolymers are at the origin of most of the light‐transport effects. How natural photonic systems manage light scattering and what can be learned from plants and animals to produce photonic materials from biopolymers are discussed. Tuning the light‐scattering properties via structural variations allows a wide range of appearances to be obtained, from whiteness to transparency, using the same renewable and biodegradable building blocks. Here, various transparent and white cellulose‐based materials produced so far are highlighted.



Progress Report, Progress Reports, bioinspiration, disordered photonics, nanocellulose, transparent wood, whiteness

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Advanced Materials

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Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/K014617/1)
H2020 European Research Council ([ERC‐2014‐STG H2020 639088])
H2020 Marie Skłodowska‐Curie Actions (793643‐MFCPF)
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung (CH) (P2ZHP2 183998)