Biopolymeric photonic structures: design, fabrication, and emerging applications
Biological photonic structures can precisely control light propagation, scattering, and emission via hierarchical structures and diverse chemistry, enabling biophotonic applications for transparency, camouflaging, protection, mimicking and signaling. Corresponding natural polymers are promising building blocks for constructing synthetic multifunctional photonic structures owing to their renewability, biocompatibility, mechanical robustness, ambient processing conditions, and diverse surface chemistry. In this review, we provide a summary of the light phenomena in biophotonic structures found in nature, the selection of corresponding biopolymers for synthetic photonic structures, the fabrication strategies for flexible photonics, and corresponding emerging photonic-related applications. We introduce various photonic structures, including multi-layered, opal, and chiral structures, as well as photonic networks in contrast to traditionally considered light absorption and structural photonics. Next, we summarize the bottom-up and top-down fabrication approaches and physical properties of organized biopolymers and highlight the advantages of biopolymers as building blocks for realizing unique bioenabled photonic structures. Furthermore, we consider the integration of synthetic optically active nanocomponents into organized hierarchical biopolymer frameworks for added optical functionalities, such as enhanced iridescence and chiral photoluminescence. Finally, we present an outlook on current trends in biophotonic materials design and fabrication, including current issues, critical needs, as well as promising emerging photonic applications.