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Scientists make printable colours breakthrough

November 9, 2017

(Copyright: American Chemical Society)

Researchers have found a way to use nanostructures to broaden the printable colour spectrum, while still ensuring high resolution.

A new study published in Nano Letters charts a scientific breakthrough, with researchers finding a way to “expand the printable colour spectrum with a novel nanostructure system”, according to PHYS.ORG.

The current range of printer colours “was developed in 1996 by Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard” and uses the standard Red Green Blue colour space, but these colours “only encompass a subset of colours that the human eye can see”, and scientists have been wanting to come up with “a better system” to surpass this. The goal was to broaden the spectrum while at the same time maintaining the colours’ high resolution.

Previously they trialled metallic nanostructures, which either resulted in poor colour quality or low resolution and would have been too expensive as a viable option. Scientists then moved on to silicon because of its “unique properties”, but until now, “silicon colour systems have shown poor colour saturation and range.”

However, Joel Yang and his fellow researchers continued experimenting in order to “design a novel silicon nanostructure that could potentially overcome these limitations and complete with the sRGB system.”

Silicon nanodisks of varying sizes were tested so that the team could compute the “optimal disk sizes and distances between them”; they then “used the nanodisks to print an art piece on silicon coated with an anti-reflective layer consisting of silicon nitride.” This anti-reflective coated substrate “was important to more closely mimic the colour range visible to the human eye”.

The scientists duly discovered that “the silicon nanostructures expanded the range of printable colours by 121 percent” and simultaneously maintained “both high colour saturation and resolution.”

While this novel nanostructure system “still has some limitations”, the team of researchers noted that they have achieved “the largest colour gamut for printing while maintaining a print resolution better than 40, 000dpi.”



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