Robust and flexible thermal-plasticizing 3D shaped composite films with invariable and brilliant structural color†
In this paper, we present a novel flexible thermal-plasticizing 3D shaped composite film with invariable structural color through an organic–inorganic hybrid matrix design: the infiltrated thermoplastic polymer (PHMP) is employed as a functional organic part to offer the ability of flexible programming and fixing 3D shapes via reversible thermal transformations between elasticity and plasticity; the hollow silica photonic crystals (PCs), as a structure supporting matrix, together with PHMP provide invariable structural color in the whole thermal-plasticizing process and even under extremely high mechanical tension and compression. With this strategy, the obtained hollow silica/PHMP composite films can be 3D reshaped repeatedly and freely. A high degree of cross-linking in the PHMP and supporting skeleton of hollow silica PCs ensures its robust properties against external mechanical stretching and compression. In addition, the novel composite films also possess a bright structural color resulting from the introduction of carbon absorbed in the hollow silica with our synthesis scheme. Overall, the combination of flexible thermoplastic properties and invariable structural color for the as-prepared composite films will promote applications in many color-related fields, such as 3D packages and artistic decorating.