Jeans fade. The sun breaks down the dye’s chemical bonds, or the Laundromat washes it away. The same cannot be said for a parrot’s feathers. Those striking blues and greens come from “structural color.” Nanoscopic balls of pigment reflect certain wavelengths of light but not others, creating colors purer than any dye. And since there are no chemical bonds to break, the colors can’t fade. For the first time, in May, researchers created structural color in the lab. They say it could lead to longer-lasting paints or even color-changing camouflage.
This article was originally published in the September 2015 issue of Popular Science.