The authors report a simple experimental method to accurately measure the volume fraction of artificial opals. The results are modeled using several methods, and they find that some of the most common yield very inaccurate results. Both finite size and substrate effects play an important role in calculations of the volume fraction. The experimental results show that the interstitial pore volume is 4%–15% larger than expected for close-packed structures. Consequently, calculations performed in previous work relating the amount of material synthesized in the opal interstices with the optical properties may need revision, especially in the case of high refractive index materials.

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