Peacock, which is the national bird of India, has inspired designers for many generations. Recently, a team of researchers from Dalian University of Technology, China has borrowed inspiration from the patterned structure of peacock feathers to derive structural colours in textiles, to make the coloration process more environmentally friendly.

Deviating from the concept of chemical colours, the scientists have developed 3-D colloidal crystals and have transfer printed on to voile fabrics to create structural colours. The colouration formulation consists of polystyrene nano particles, polyacrylate, carbon black and water. The nano polystyrene is responsible for the 3-D colloidal crystal formation, which modulates the light to develop the structural colour patterns. Polyacrylate is needed for mechanical stability of the colloidal structures on the fabric.

According to the researchers, colloidal crystals are promising alternates to organic dyes and pigments. Transfer printing of colloidal particles resulted in good wash resistant multicolored patterns similar to those in peacock feathers. The work has appeared in a recent issue of ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.