Assistant Professor Neil Dasgupta and PhD students Robin Rodriguez and Eric Kazyak's research focuses on Morpho butterfly wings and the fact that they contain naturally occurring hierarchical nanostructures that produce structural coloration. Dasgupta and his team present a biotemplating approach that preserves the Morpho nanostructures by depositing ZnO coatings onto wings via atomic layer deposition (ALD). ALD enables precise tuning of the natural structural coloration in the visible spectrum, while also integrating multifunctionality by imparting photocatalytic activity onto fully intact Morpho wings.
These structurally colored photocatalysts present a new approach to integrating solar energy harvesting for water purification into visually attractive surfaces, which can be integrated into building facades or other macroscopic structures to simultaneously impart aesthetic appeal.
The research is a collaboration with Shanghai Jiao Tong University and is partially funded through the University of Michigan-SJTU Collaboration program.