A photo of a “bastard hogberry” plant
Harvard University in collaboration with the University of Exeter has created a new material inspired by the “bastard hogberry”. This plant changes its color and the fiber that the collaborator’s invented mimics this change in the fact that it changes color when stretched. A picture of the phonotic fibers is given below:
The photonic fibers are made by wrapping multiple layers of polymer around a glass core, which is later etched away. The thickness of the layers determines the apparent color of the fiber, which can range across the entire visible spectrum of light. (Image courtesy of Mathias Kolle.)
The upper cells within the seed skin of the bastard hogberry contain a repeating curved pattern which yields color through interference of light waves. There are multiple layers of cells in the seed coat made from a highly regular cylindrically layered architecture. Hence the researchers processed the fabric by using a thin glass fiber and wrapping the polymer around them.
An article published on this material is found in Advanced Materials here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/adma.201203529/abstract. Also, a brief synopsis of the work is given here: http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpage/413/.