Structural colors have drawn wide attention for their potential as a future printing technology for various applications, ranging from biomimetic tissues to adaptive camouflage materials. However, an efficient approach to realize robust colors with a scalable fabrication technique is still lacking, hampering the realization of practical applications with this platform. Here, we develop a new approach based on large-scale network metamaterials that combine dealloyed subwavelength structures at the nanoscale with lossless, ultra-thin dielectric coatings. By using theory and experiments, we show how subwavelength dielectric coatings control a mechanism of resonant light coupling with epsilon-near-zero regions generated in the metallic network, generating the formation of saturated structural colors that cover a wide portion of the spectrum. Ellipsometry measurements support the efficient observation of these colors, even at angles of 70°. The network-like architecture of these nanomaterials allows for high mechanical resistance, which is quantified in a series of nano-scratch tests. With such remarkable properties, these metastructures represent a robust design technology for real-world, large-scale commercial applications.

Read more at: Light: Science & Applications volume 6, page e16233 (2017)