Ray of Hope Prize® Runner-Up Prize Awarded to Cypris Materials

Cypris is reinventing how we can manipulate light wavelengths to produce vibrant colors – without the toxic dyes. “We’ve been waiting decades for this,” says Janine Benyus. “These are not people putting on a green chemistry facade.”

The Biomimicry Institute and Ray C. Anderson Foundation are proud to announce that Cypris Materials has been named Runner Up for the Ray of Hope Prize and will receive $25,000. Cypris Materials is a Berkeley, California-based company that has developed a paint that reflects wavelengths of light to produce color, instead of utilizing toxic pigments and dyes. Known as structural color, and found throughout nature (most notably on the wings of morpho butterflies), the tunable coating Cypris invented uses biomimicry principles and can be applied directly to surfaces as a paint. It reflects wavelengths throughout the UV, visible, and infrared spectrums. The technology improves building and automobile energy efficiency by reflecting UV, visible, and infrared light, while also expanding the available color palette and eliminating toxic pigments and colorants.

“This is biomimicry in action,” says Janine Benyus, biomimicry pioneer and one of this year’s Ray of Hope Prize judges. “The solution created by Cypris Materials truly amazes me. If you look around right now, there is color in just about every product you see, and with it comes potential toxicity. The Cypris team’s story isn’t just about the incredible range of applications they are solving for, it’s also about how the products are made, and how Life’s Principles are incorporated.”

Cypris Materials’ coating can be applied to nearly any surface, and the company is preparing to scale up its manufacturing capabilities with new applications that compete in the commercial paint, cosmetics, and automotive fields. Their technology allows for vivid and long-lasting color without the need for toxic pigments and colorants, protecting consumers and the raw producers. In addition, Cypris has received a research grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to develop a process to paint building facades with a solar reflective coating that will significantly reduce cooling costs and overall energy usage while lowering the barrier to entry for large-scale retrofits. 

“Our goal with Cypris Materials is to re-invent humans’ relationship with traditional paint and colorants by bringing to market a non-toxic, long-lasting, and affordable alternative – structural color,” says co-founder Ryan Pearson. “We are inspired by the work of Ray at Interface, and are committed to bringing to market a product that is just as good for the Earth as it is for business.”

Coatings and color are typically restricted by aesthetics, ease of application, expense, range, and toxicity. Innovation in industries from various sectors like automotive, construction, and consumer products are all similarly limited by their surface chemistry. Over the last decade, Cypris has developed its tunable structural color coating from commodity materials. When formulated and applied onto a surface, the coating self-assembles into a robust reflective nanostructure. The simplicity of this approach replaces the multimillion-dollar manufacturing equipment with a simple paint brush.

The Ray of Hope Prize aims to celebrate and accelerate nature-inspired solutions that are addressing the world’s environmental and sustainability challenges. The competition is named after the Founder of Interface Inc., Ray C. Anderson, and embodies Ray’s quest to prove that sustainability is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do for business.

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