Scientists have created smart opal sensors inspired by peacock feathers

Scientists have created smart opal sensors inspired by the peacock tail. The work of researchers from the Universities of Surrey and Sussex is published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

To develop sensors, the researchers studied biomimicry – a color change in response to a change in environmental conditions – characteristic of butterfly wings and the peacock’s tail.

As a result, scientists were able to create color-changing flexible photonic crystals. They can be used to develop sensors that change color in response to changes in environmental conditions.

Our study is based on the amazing biomimicric abilities of butterfly wings, peacock feathers, and beetle shells, which are able to change color due to their structure and not pigments. While nature has been developing these materials for millions of years, we create them in a shorter period.

Alan Dalton, lead author of the research

Devices are able to respond to light, temperature, voltage, and other physical and chemical irritants. This will allow them to be used as indicators of food safety, monitoring biological processes and human health, as well as for analyzing fingerprints and warnings about a possible earthquake.

This work is the first experimental demonstration of mechanically strong but at the same time soft and flexible opals based on polymers containing graphene. Our method is the ability to create simple and inexpensive crystals for next-generation sensors.

Alan Dalton, lead author of the research

Previously, scientists developed a new system for monitoring glaciers using optical fibers. It is more accurate and faster than tracking the movement of glaciers from a satellite.