Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

Living Edition
| Editors: Renzo Shamey

Structural Color

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27851-8_382-1


Structural colors arise when white light incident upon a material interacts with its structure such that some wavelengths (colors) are suppressed and others appear enhanced, without any significant light absorption occurring.

Description and Examples

White light is taken to mean unpolarized light from the sun or its equivalent. All of the visible wavelengths are present in the spectrum, from deep red, wavelength 700 nm, to deep violet, wavelength 400 nm. Structural colors, in the broadest sense, arise when white light interacts with a dielectric (usually transparent) material in such a way that the overall balance of this wavelength spread is disturbed withoutsignificant energy exchange between the incident beam and the constituents of the material, that is, no specific wavelengths are absorbed by the material during this encounter. The principal processes that give rise to such colors are scattering, refraction/dispersion, reflection, and diffraction. Frequently the...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queen’s BuildingsCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joanne Zwinkels
    • 1
  1. 1.National Research Council CanadaOttawaCanada