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27th Annual Dr. Shih-I Pai Virtual Lecture with Professor Hui Cao, Yale University

27th Annual Dr. Shih-I Pai Virtual Lecture with Professor Hui Cao, Yale University

Tuesday October 19, 2021

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You are cordially invited to the 27th Annual Dr. Shih-I Pai Virtual Lecture with Professor Hui Cao, Yale University

Structural Color - Origin and Evolution in Nature

Tuesday, October 19th; 4pm Lecture


Abstract: Structural color originates from physical interaction of light with nanostructures. Most studies so far have focused on ordered structures which produce iridescent colors that change with viewing angle. However, nature has used extensively quasi-ordered structures to create weakly iridescent colors. An interdisciplinary team, consisting of optical physicists, material scientists, and biologists at Yale, has investigated the physical mechanism for coloration of nanostructures with short-range order in bird feather barbs. Inspired by nature, a simple technique is developed to fabricate large-scale biomimetic films which display isotropic structural color, that is amenable to potential applications in coatings, cosmetics, and textiles. In order to understand how the structural color evolves in nature, artificial selection has been conducted on a lab model butterfly to evolve the structural color of wing scales and compared to natural selection. This study reveals the physical mechanism of structural color evolution, which stands in sharp contrast to pigment color evolution.


HUI CAO is the John C. Malone Professor of Applied Physics and Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering at Yale University. Professor Cao began her career at Northwestern University in 1997 before accepting a position at Yale in 2008. Cao's research interests and activities are in the areas of mesoscopic physics, complex photonic materials and devices, nanophotonics, and biophotonics. She has conducted experimental studies on unconventional lasers including random lasers and chaotic microcavity lasers, and found their applications in speckle-free imaging, multi-modality microscopy, and parallel random number generation. Another research direction is coherent control of light transport in diffusive media and multimode fibers, with applications to deep-tissue imaging and endoscopy. In addition to fundamental studies on complex, chaotic and disordered systems, she has harnessed disorder for photonic device applications, e.g., she invented a compact spectrometer based on a disordered photonic chip. Professor Cao is an Elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences: she is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer, the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America. Among her many awards, she is the recipient of the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award, the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Outstanding Young Researcher Award by the Overseas Chinese Physics Association. She shared the 2015 William E. Lamb Medal for Laser Physics and Quantum Optics with A. D. Stone and V. V. Yakovlev. Cao received her B.S. in Physics from Peking University in 1990, her M.A. from Princeton in 1992 and her Ph.D. from Stanford in 1997.