Controlling the Photonic Properties of Cholesteric Cellulose Nanocrystal Films with Magnets

10 Aug 2017

The self-assembly of cellulose nanocrystals is a powerful method for the fabrication of biosourced photonic films with a chiral optical response. While various techniques have been exploited to tune the optical properties of such systems, the presence of external fields has yet to be reported to significantly modify their optical properties. In this work, by using small commercial magnets (≈ 0.5-1.2 T) the orientation of the cholesteric domains is enabled to tune in suspension as they assemble into films. A detailed analysis of these films shows an unprecedented control of their angular response. This simple and yet powerful technique unlocks new possibilities in designing the visual appearance of such iridescent films, ranging from metallic to pixelated or matt textures, paving the way for the development of truly sustainable photonic pigments in coatings, cosmetics, and security labeling.