Structural color printings have broad applications due to their advantages of long-term sustainability, eco-friendly manufacturing, and ultra-high resolution. However, most of them require costly and time-consuming fabrication processes from nanolithography to vacuum deposition and etching. Here, we demonstrate a new color printing technology based on polymer-assisted photochemical metal deposition (PPD), a room temperature, ambient, and additive manufacturing process without requiring heating, vacuum deposition or etching. The PPD-printed silver films comprise densely aggregated silver nanoparticles filled with a small amount (estimated <20% volume) of polymers, producing a smooth surface (roughness 2.5 nm) even better than vacuum-deposited silver films (roughness 2.8 nm) at ~4 nm thickness. Further, the printed composite films have a much larger effective refractive index n (~1.90) and a smaller extinction coefficient k (~0.92) than PVD ones in the visible wavelength range (400 to 800 nm), therefore modulating the surface reflection and the phase accumulation. The capability of PPD in printing both ultra-thin (~5 nm) composite films and highly reflective thicker film greatly benefit the design and construction of multilayered Fabry–Perot (FP) cavity structures to exhibit vivid and saturated colors. We demonstrated programmed printing of complex pictures of different color schemes at a high spatial resolution of ~6.5 μm by three-dimensionally modulating the top composite film geometries and dielectric spacer thicknesses (75 to 200 nm). Finally, PPD-based color picture printing is demonstrated on a wide range of substrates, including glass, PDMS, and plastic, proving its broad potential in future applications from security labeling to color displays.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics