If you have ever looked at a water puddle and saw a rainbow of colors, then you have seen structural colors. These colors are also found on many different butterflies and on duck and flamingo feathers. They are also seen in rocks, shells and in many other places.
Unlike other materials that have their color because they contain structures causing the light to scatter, these items have molecules capable of absorbing light. While normal colors fade over time, those items that are capable of absorbing light never fade. Now, scientists have learned to use this process to make clothing that will never fade. While researchers have long known the advantages of creating material that absorbs light, they did not understand how to do it until now.
Inspired by duck and bird feathers, researchers first made balls of melanin. This substance is the same thing that gives your skin its color. Then, scientists coated the melanin balls with layers of silica. The silica forces holes between the molecules of melanin. The silica then absorbs structural colors that will never fade. It is interesting to note that while you can see the colors, they look black when examined under a microscope. It is only when viewed at a normal distance by the naked eye that colors appear.
The researchers called these balls supraballs. They can be added to many different items including paint, cosmetics and clothing. The item where they are added will never fade. Therefore, your life may get a whole lot simpler as you may never need to buy new clothes, reapply your makeup or paint your house again. Just like in nature, however, it will be impossible to determine the exact color that a person will see.
Scientists can add the supraballs in various thicknesses. Therefore, the item where they are added can eventually wear off or breakdown.