Cool Science

Paint without pigment

Liked This Is the Lightest Paint in the World by Max G. Levy (WIRED)

An energy-saving coating needs no pigments, and it keeps the surface beneath it 30 degrees cooler.

Some of nature’s most vivid looks—the kind worn by peacocksbeetles, and butterflies—do their thing without pigment.

Those colors come from topography. Submicroscopic landscapes on the outer surfaces of peacock feathers, beetle shells, and butterfly wings diffract light to produce what’s known as structural color.

See also: Life in Color: Seeing in Color

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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