The standard inorganic oxide pigments used in the coatings and the cosmetic industries lack color richness (chroma) and a variety of hues. Significant work has been done using organic pigments, as they are photosensitive with enhanced hue, brilliance, color strength and transparency however some disadvantages organic pigments are their limited “hiding power”, poor dispersion ability and poor weather durability. 
To mitigate these effects, researchers are encapsulating organic pigments within mica and other inorganic materials, demonstrating their ability to improve the pigment dispersion and weather durability within these shells. Another approach is the use of pearlescent or effect pigments, which are described as surface-modified pigments engineered to add dramatic visual effects. These pigments are often incorporated in cosmetic formulations due to their ability to provide color, luster, iridescence, color travel, and texture to the designated formulation. Effect pigments have been historically constructed of mica but new performance pigments are being engineered with transparent substrates such as synthetic fluorphlogopite, borosilicate, and silica. Each of these substrates provides a range of optical properties that can deliver differentiated appearance and performance characteristics in cosmetic formulations. The disadvantages of using mica platelets as the substrate of effect pigments include uncontrollable variance in platelet thickness, iron impurities and lack of particle assembly. 
Technology Overview
Northeastern University researchers have improved the design of effect pigments by using squid pigments encapsulated silica platelets fabricated in the laboratory. This is done by using a bio-compatible synthesis derived from the formation of biogenic silica in diatoms. These structures will provide a flexible platform to encapsulate pigments extracted from the squid skin to build synthetic, photonic granules that will incorporate the surface treatments necessary for various light scattering events while providing an alternative to sun protection. In diatoms, silica synthesis occurs through the cooperative assembly of post-translationally modified cationic peptides, silaffins, and long-chain polyamines (LCPAs) that aggregate to precipitate silica at slightly acidic (5.5) pH. Use of biomimetic analogue to the LCPAs (the amine terminate dendrimer) controls the size and abundance of precipitated silica nanoparticles from the hydrolyzed precursor tetramethyl orthosilicate (TMOS).
- Surface-treated squid pigments can be designed to impart complex directional differences and other well-controlled optical properties depending on the thickness of the coating
- Squid pigments can be used to enhance skin radiance due to its characteristic blue-white fluorescence when exposed to UV light
- This synthesis enables the building of synthetic materials that recapitulate the nano spherical structure, absorbance, and scattering of native chromatophore pigment granules for improved color properties, brightness, and hue 
- Sun-protectant products 
- Cosmetic products 
- License
- Partnering
- Research collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Leila Deravi
Camille Martin
Amrita Kumar