06. November 2019 - 18:00 till 20:00
Share it on:

Free Public Lecture - BioInspiration: Making Colours with your Five a Day | Theatre A, Elisabeth Murdoch Building | Wednesday, 06. November 2019

Over millions of years of evolution, living things have developed complex structures to manipulate light without any pigment, using only transparent materials. This so-called structural colouris responsible for the most intense reflections found in Nature and is found in almost every kind of living thing; from mother-of-pearl, to peacock feathers and iridescent green beetles. Humans use artificial structural colorants in everything from paints to bank notes; but these are often made from chemicals and plastics that fade over time and can't be recycled. In our lab at the University of Cambridge, we study how living organisms use simple biological “building blocks” – such as cellulose in plants or keratin in bird feathers and human hair – to produce every imaginable colour and visual effect. We show how these highly abundant, biodegradable and non-toxic bio-materials can be used to produce bioinspired, eco-friendly colorants. Come and sample our structurally coloured cellulose – it’s edible! 

About the presenter: 
Dr. Silvia Vignolini is a Reader in Chemistry and Bio-inspired Materials at the University of Cambridge. Her research lies at the interface of chemistry, soft-matter physics, optics, and biology. In particular, her research focuses on the study of how natural materials are assembled into complex architectures within living organisms and how these architectures define the organism’s appearance. Inspired by nature, her lab develops tools to fabricate artificial light-manipulating structures using natural materials. Her group’s research is paving the way to the production of low cost, biodegradable novel materials, which could replace traditional, potentially hazardous colorants used industrially for different applications, such as cosmetics, textiles and security labelling.