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Photonic Crystals on the Wing

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Final rept. 17 March 2010-17 Sep 2011

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In the last three years, two research groups, from the universities in Groningen, the Netherlands, and Exeter, UK, working on the natural photonics of animals, have been able to join forces thanks to the EOARDAFOSR grant. The aim of the research project has been and is the elucidation of the optical mechanisms involved in animal coloration. Indeed, color is one of the important aspects that characterize an animal. As will be outlined below, during the past research period of three years, the collaborating teams have made considerable strides in advancing the field. Worldwide a rapidly increasing research activity can be observed in the area of animal coloration and the subsequent biomimetic applications of the discovered photonic design principles. We have now achieved a stage where we can well delineate the optical methods that animals use in making themselves colorful, or reversely, which tools they use for optimal camouflage. The near future will see further detailing of our present basic knowledge, and we expect that the focus will gradually shift to sophisticated technical applications and instruments. There were 49 publications produces from this Grant. Highlights and discoveries made during the grant period 1 Characterized several photonic structures present in butterflies, beetles and birds 2 Elucidated the unique properties of various photonic crystals gyroids, fcc- and diamond-type, and quasi-ordered 3 Characterized the scattering structures creating extreme whiteness 4 Discovered that the unique, boomerang shape of Parotia breast feather barbule segments enables the creation of very rapidly changing color effects 5 Found that thin film and multilayers of butterflies and beetles act as polarizer reflectors, which enable a secret signaling channel for conspecifics, invisible for predatory

Subject Categories:

  • Crystallography
  • Optics

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