Engineering a Full Gamut of Structural Colors in All-Dielectric Mesoporous Network Metamaterials

Structural colors are a result of the scattering of certain frequencies of the incident light on micro- or nanoscale features in a material. This is a quite different phenomenon from that of colors produced by absorption of different frequencies of the visible spectrum by pigments or dyes, which is the most common way of coloring used in our daily life. However, structural colors are more robust and can be engineered to span most of the visible spectrum without changing the base material, only its internal structure. They are abundant in nature, with examples as colorful as beetle shells and butterfly wings, but there are few ways of preparing them for large-scale commercial applications for real-world uses. In this work, we present a technique to create a full gamut of structural colors based on a low-cost, robust, and scalable fabrication of periodic network structures in porous alumina as well as the strategy to theoretically predict and engineer different colors on demand. We experimentally demonstrate mesoporous network metamaterial structures with engineered colors spanning the whole optical spectrum and discuss their applications in sensing, environmental monitoring, biomimetic tissues engineering, etc.