A notable trend these days amongst academics is the increasing tendency to transfer the fruits of their research to the marketplace through a large number of spin-off companies, all racing to develop, manufacture, and commercialize products. In this article we present a personal account of some of our recent research in the area of photonic crystals that over the course of the last five years has evolved from a laboratory curiosity to a commercializable technology. Two of these nanotechnology platforms, termed P-Ink and Elast-Ink, are both founded on active color tuning of opals, a capability that provides electrical and mechanical access to materials with any visible color, as well as invisible near-infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths. These actively tuned opals show considerable promise for new-generation full-color displays, surface coatings, biometric security and authentification devices.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(08)70148-2