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Revealing the Structural Coloration of Self-Assembled Chitin Nanocrystal Films.

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The structural coloration of arthropods often arises from helicoidal structures made primarily of chitin. Although it is possible to achieve analogous helicoidal architectures by exploiting the self-assembly of chitin nanocrystals (ChNCs), to date no evidence of structural coloration has been reported from such structures. Previous studies are identified to have been constrained by both the experimental inability to access sub-micrometer helicoidal pitches and the intrinsically low birefringence of crystalline chitin. To expand the range of accessible pitches, here, ChNCs are isolated from two phylogenetically distinct sources of α-chitin, namely fungi and shrimp, while to increase the birefringence, an in situ alkaline treatment is performed, increasing the intensity of the reflected color by nearly two orders of magnitude. By combining this treatment with precise control over ChNC suspension formulation, structurally colored chitin-based films are demonstrated with reflection tunable from blue to near infrared.



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Adv Mater

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Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/K014617/1)
EPSRC (1948659)
European Research Council (790518)
BBSRC (BB/V00364X/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (1800758)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (1948659)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (722842)
This work was supported by: European Research Council [ERC-2017-POC 790518], BBSRC [BB/K014617/1, BB/V00364X/1], EPSRC [EP/N509620/1, EP/L015978/1], Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement [No. 722842], Lord Lewis Research Studentship in Chemistry, Erasmus + traineeship (NLMAASTRI01).