Living With Butterfly Colors

by jjneal

Morpho butterflies are a brilliant blue color because they reflect only the blue wavelength light. Longer light wavelengths are scattered. How does this work? The scales on the wings of Morphos have micro ridges that are spaced close together. The distance is shorter than the longer light wavelengths. When red or green light hits the scale, much of the light that is reflected at the surface collides with a nearby micro ridge. Most of the blue and UV light, which is shorter wavelength light, is reflected by the wing scale without hitting the ridges. The shorter light wavelengths “fit” between the ridges and are reflected. The longer light wavelengths do not fit and are absorbed or scattered rather than reflected.

New technology and improvements in fabrication methods are leading to a new wave of nano scale products. Two-Photon Polymerization is a technique for creating nano scale structures using femtosecond lasers. A brief, focused pulse of light applied to a photosensitive material can create structures in the 100 nm range. Using Two-Photon Polymerization it is now possible (still very expensive and time consuming) to produce synthetic materials that have some of the structural color properties of butter fly wings.

Place your advance order for butterfly wall paper today. Delivery will be at least a decade off.

Structural Blue Color on Morpho Butterfly Wings

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Living With Butterfly Colors

  1. annasdolls says:

    I like your work so much.

  2. Pingback: Butterfly Biomaterial Infrared Sensors | Living With Insects Blog

  3. Pingback: Nano-Scale Polarity in Butterfly Scales | Living With Insects Blog

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