Colouring outside the lines: A J-WAFS researcher's colour-changing materials
For Mathias Kolle, the wings of a butterfly are a window into a better material world. Mathias and his students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are designing materials, inspired by nature, that exhibit advanced optical functions, such as colour-changing fibres that can be woven into pressure-monitoring bandages and tied into strength-testing knots.
An assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT since 2013, Mathias was a 2017 principal investigator funded by the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS). His J-WAFS-funded research 'Multifunctional light-diffusing fibres for simultaneous light management and fluid transport in microalgae bioreactors' sought to engineer leaky light guides to transport light and carbon dioxide more efficiently throughout deep microalgae cultures.
His current research harnesses optical functions in the hopes of generating colours without chemicals. This research expands to developing edible colours, including edible, structurally coloured food droplets, which could change food aesthetics and visually enhance the culinary experience.