This ‘Nanosphere’ Paint Could Reduce Carbon Emissions From Jets

Kobe University reports that Fujii and Sugimoto’s experimental process article emphasized structural color over pigment color. As the article notes, while pigment swallows specific wavelengths, reflecting back the remainder as visible light, structural colors “arise when light is reflected from parallel nanostructures set apart at just the right distance so that only light of certain wavelengths will survive while others are canceled out, reflecting only the color we see.” Examples occur in nature: The wings of butterflies and the feathers of birds of paradise get vibrant colors from the same kinds of structures. Unlike most pigments, structural color also doesn’t degrade over time.

Air travel, public and private, has a substantial carbon footprint. Since heavier planes require more fuel to elevate, this new lightweight paint could reduce the environmental impact of flight. As Sugimoto explains, “We can apply it to the coating of, for example, airplanes. The pigments and coatings on an airplane have a weight of several hundreds of kilograms. If we use our nanosphere-based ink, we might be able to reduce the weight to less than 10% of that.”