Lightest Paint Inspired By Butterfly Wings

May 18, 2023

Plasma coating was applied to the wings of metal butterflies, and it was this insect that sparked the research.

Researchers at the University of Florida in the United States drew inspiration from butterfly wings to develop a new energy-saving paint that is natural and environmentally friendly.This coating is not made of pigments, but uses the nanoscale structure of colorless materials such as aluminum and aluminum oxide to produce color, making it very environmentally friendly. This alternative to pigment colorants can help save energy and slow down global warming. By arranging them at the top of the oxide coated aluminum mirror in different ways, the scattering, reflection, or absorption of light can be controlled. The rich colors of butterfly wings follow a similar principle.

Debashim Chanda, University of Central Florida Nanoscience and Technology Center professor said, because the pigment gradually loses its ability to absorb photons,the normal color fades.But structural paint is not limited by this phenomenon, and once applied, it should remain for centuries.

According to the scientists' calculations, it takes only 1.4 kilograms of plasma paint to cover the surface of a Boeing 747. Conventional commercial paint requires at least 454 kilograms to get the same effect.This means that it can significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated by aviation coatings.

In addition, plasma coating absorbs less heat, its undersurfaces are cooler than those covered by commercial coating.    

Plasma paint is light.This is due to the large area-to-thickness ratio of this coating, which achieves full coloration at a coating thickness of only 150 nanometers, making it the lightest coating in the world. The paint is still a long way from mass production.

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