Physical methods for investigating structural colours in biological systems

P. Vukusic*, D. G. Stavenga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)
284 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Many biological systems are known to use structural colour effects to generate aspects of their appearance and visibility. The study of these phenomena has informed an eclectic group of fields ranging, for example, from evolutionary processes in behavioural biology to micro-optical devices in technologically engineered systems. However, biological photonic systems are invariably structurally and often compositionally more elaborate than most synthetically fabricated photonic systems. For this reason, an appropriate gamut of physical methods and investigative techniques must be applied correctly so that the systems' photonic behaviour may be appropriately understood. Here, we survey a broad range of the most commonly implemented, successfully used and recently innovated physical methods. We discuss the costs and benefits of various spectrometric methods and instruments, namely scatterometers, microspectrophotometers, fibre-optic-connected photodiode array spectrometers and integrating spheres. We then discuss the role of the materials' refractive index and several of the more commonly used theoretical approaches. Finally, we describe the recent developments in the research field of photonic crystals and the implications for the further study of structural coloration in animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S133-S148
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6-Apr-2009
EventConference on Iridescence - More than Meets the Eye - , Azerbaijan
Duration: 6-Feb-20089-Feb-2008

Keywords

  • structural colour
  • photonics
  • iridescence
  • multilayers
  • spectrometry
  • microscopy
  • BUTTERFLY WING SCALES
  • PHOTONIC CRYSTALS
  • IMAGING SCATTEROMETRY
  • PIERID BUTTERFLIES
  • COLIAS-EURYTHEME
  • LIGHT-SCATTERING
  • INTERFERENCE
  • IRIDESCENCE
  • REFLECTANCE
  • TRANSMITTANCE

Cite this