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Sep 29, 2022

Surprising Colors with Scotch Tape

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

A physicist’s do-it-yourself art project makes vibrant images with a pair of polarizers and carefully placed layers of transparent tape.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down universities and offices across the world in spring 2020, finding new hobbies to stave off fear (and boredom) became paramount. While some took up cross-stitch or a new stretching routine, Aaron Slepkov, a photonics researcher at the University of Trent in Peterborough, Canada, turned to a physics-inspired art form called polage to occupy his time.

Polage, or polarization-filtered coloration, as Slepkov calls it, is a kind of collage that uses polarizers and thin films to create brightly colored artworks that transform depending on how you look at them. This metamorphosis is made possible by birefringence, an optical property of certain materials that changes the polarization state of transmitted light. Examples of birefringent materials include ice, calcite crystals, cellophane film, and transparent tape.

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