The researchers were able to create color effects on black carbon fiber by coating them in a layer of titanium dioxide. The color of the light reflected by this layer could be controlled by varying its thickness.
The resulting colored fibers could be woven into fabrics that had similar mechanical properties to regular carbon fiber fabrics. They were also colorfast, staying bright even after being washed 50 times.
The team say that as well as enabling more stylish color options for high tech fabrics, their approach could have applications in future optical or color display technologies.