Non-Iridescent Structural Color Control via Inkjet Printing of Self-Assembled Synthetic Melanin Nanoparticles

Ziying Hu, Nathan P. Bradshaw, Bram Vanthournout, Chris Forman, Karthikeyan Gnanasekaran, Matthew P. Thompson, Paul Smeets, Ali Dhinojwala, Matthew D. Shawkey, Mark C. Hersam*, Nathan C. Gianneschi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Melanin is a natural pigment with a high refractive index and strong light absorption across the visible spectrum, making it an ideal material for producing structural colors. Here, we report non-iridescent structural color control via inkjet printing of self-assembled synthetic melanin nanoparticles (SMNPs). Adding silica shells to SMNPs allows for further tuning of both the hue and brightness of the resulting structural colors. The peak wavelengths show a linear dependence with the diameter of the nanoparticles, allowing correlation between ink composition and structural color using the Bragg-Snell law. Additionally, mixtures of SMNPs of different sizes result in colors with peak wavelengths that vary linearly with the mixing ratio in the ink, leading to diverse and predictable colors from one type of material. The morphology of the self-assembled SMNP structures is further controlled by the hydrophilicity of the substrate, providing another means for tailoring the structure and properties. Since structural colors are less susceptible to degradation than organic dyes, this work has implications for emerging sensing, display, and security applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6433-6442
Number of pages10
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 24 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry


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