Questions for ‘These colorful butterflies were printed with transparent ink’

images of butterflies created with transparent ink

Transparent ink takes on a variety of hues when printed in precise, microscale patterns across a clear surface.

K. Li et al/Science Advances 2021

To accompany These colorful butterflies were printed with transparent ink’  


Before Reading:

  1. Search the internet for images of soap bubbles. List the colors you see. If you watch a bubble in real life, do the colors change or remain the same? Make a guess: From where do you think bubbles get their color?

During Reading:

  1. What color was the liquid ink that scientists used in making “structural colors”?
  2. List two advantages that structural colors have over regular dyes.
  3. Where might a student find examples of structural color in nature?
  4. Though the printer used was a normal inkject printer, something about the way the ink was deposited in this study was unusual. What was unusual about the ink deposition?
  5. To change color, what did researchers adjust? Be specific: What differed between ink resulting in red structural color and ink looking blue?
  6. According to Yanlin Song, what needs improvement?
  7. What does Lauren Zarzar give as two potential uses for these structural colors.

After Reading:

  1. Bright light shines through a prism. The light appears colorless, or white, before entering the prism but appears as a rainbow when leaving the prism. Take a guess: Where did those colors come from? What might cause this change from white light to colorful light? Now search the internet for answers to that question. Let’s learn about light is an article that will help you. Then rewrite your explanation (if need be) using what you’ve learned. How does your research about white light help you better understand this experiment? Pick an example from this article that relates to what you’ve learned about white light and explain your choice.
  2. Lauren Zarzar is a materials chemist who studies structural colors. However, in her work, she studies them differently from Yanlin Song’s team. What does Zarzar use for studying structural color? Thinking specifically about shape, how is what Zarzar studies similar to the way ink is deposited by Song’s group?