Tech solution for textile printing

Rui Fang

What do I do?

Imagine one day, you will have this new fancy t-shirt. You can choose any colour or pattern via an app on your smart device, and this shirt would turn into your design instantly. It doesn’t rely on light-emitting sources. It is based solely on natural light! I am working to prove the concept of such material.

My research focuses on building a metasurface – a man-made artificial surface that can control Electromagnetic Waves at visible frequency. In other words, I am building a new type of material that can control reflected colour, by stretching or compressing the material. We study and design the surface nanostructure – its material, its shape, its periodicity – to reflect natural light at will.

Why do I do it?

Traditional chemical dye tends to fade in sunlight. It is also labour-intensive and has a relatively high environmental cost. Our new material solves the problem of colour fading, and potentially it is a solution to the problem of fast fashion.

How is it going?

We noticed most literature focused on building their metasurface by the type of material. We have demonstrated for the first time that when two types of materials (dielectric and metal) are placed adjacent, the strong interaction can shift the colour with very little strain. The progress up to date has been published in the Journal of Applied Physics. Our work has been selected as the Editor’s Pick and it was featured on the cover page of the journal.

Me and the journal

The coolest part of this project is experimentation. The clean room in the Engineering Department (top pic) provides an environment suitable for nano-scale fabrication. To protect the clean environment, we are required to wear full PPE. Everyone looks like they walked straight out of a sci-fi movie.

Studying for a PhD is a long, demanding, challenging, but rewarding journey. I am grateful for the opportunities which allow me to pursue my passion in science, and engineering, focussing on higher efficiency and a more convenient life.

Discover more

Our Department of Engineering offers a wide range of Engineering pathways, is recognised as ones of the leading centres of research in Engineering in the world and is ranked 5th in the UK in The Guardian University Guide 2022. Students benefit from excellent employment opportunities as well as interdisciplinary research and national and international cooperation.  

Feeling inspired? Visit our Engineering webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes. 

Rui Fang

I am Rui Fang, a 3rd year PhD from the Department of Engineering. I am currently the MCR president of Hatfield College. I joined Durham Engineering as an MSc student in 2018, and I never left. My specialization is Nano-Photonics. I am supervised by Dr. Mehdi Keshavarz Hedayati and Prof. Dagou Zeze.

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