Characterization of Surfaces that Generate Structural Color by Total Internal Reflection

Characterization of surfaces that generate structural color by total internal reflection

Our research involves the design of microstructures that generate interference colors. Our first report of this optical mechanism appeared in Goodling, A. E., et al. (2019). “Colouration by total internal reflection and interference at microscale concave interfaces.” Nature 556 (7745): 523-527. Light bounces by total internal reflection within the microstructures and optical interference occurs between light rays undergoing different paths of reflection.


We design microstructured surfaces to control the reflection of the light and the colors produced. We need to measure the surface topography to be able to correlate optical properties with the surface geometries. The geometries of the microstructures, such as their depth, width, angles, and surface roughness impact the optical properties. We use the optical profilometer to characterize the surface profiles of the microstructures and the uniformity across the surface. Sometimes our structures have steep angles, so being able to use different modes of surface profiling is important to get the most accurate determination of the microstructure geometry.

Experimental details

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