PerspectiveMaterials Science

Opals in a New Light

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Science  30 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5390, pp. 887-888
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5390.887

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The spectacular iridescence of natural opals is caused by light scattering from ordered arrays of dielectric material in these prized gemstones. As a result, there is much interest in synthesizing artificial opalescent materials as photonic materials. In his Perspective, van Blaaderen discusses results reported in the same issue by Zakhidov et al. showing that cubic graphite, an artificial opalescent material, has been synthesized. The method used by the authors, in combination with other techniques for making photonic band gap crystals, is likely to yield a new range of optical materials.