The Easel

The Ambiguous Colors of Nanotechnology

Pigments create colour by reflecting light of a particular wavelength. Nanoparticles have both this and a second property, “structural colour”, that is created by the shape of the particles themselves. This accounts for iridescence in butterfly wings, for example. So what colour is a nanomaterial? “There is no simple answer … You understand, then you don’t. It’s almost mystical.” A TED talk is here.