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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 19, Iss. 10 — May. 9, 2011
  • pp: 9232–9241

Mysterious coloring: structural origin of color mixing for two breeds of Papilio butterflies

Ying-Ying Diao and Xiang-Yang Liu  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 19, Issue 10, pp. 9232-9241 (2011)

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The structural origin of the coloration mechanisms and related extraordinary optical properties of the wing scales of two breeds of Papilio butterflies, namely, Papilio ulysses and Papilio blumei, are explored. The precise ordered biophotonic nanostructures of the wing scales are characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Despite their structural similarities, the two breeds of Papilio butterflies do not exhibit any analogy in their optical performances. When illuminated with UV-Vis light, P. ulysses gives rise to two reflection peaks: one is from concavities, and the other is from ridges. These two spectral peaks shift their positions under different illumination angles (normal and 45° incident light). In contrast, the spectra for the green scales of P. blumei give one broad reflection peak, and the peak remains the same under normal and 45° incident light. The optical microscopy images indicate that the cap-shaped concavities on P. blumei’s wing scales generate an abnormal bicolor reflection with a strong polarization effect. Both of these two breeds of butterflies take advantage of color mixing strategy: the blue color of P. ulysses is mixed by the colors reflected from concavities and ridges; the green color of P. blumei is produced by the biocolor reflection from concavities. The differences of their coloration mixing mechanisms and optical performances are due to the variations of their nanostructures. The investigation of the color mixing mechanisms of these biologically photonic nanostructures may offer a convenient way for fabricating optical devices based on biomimicry.

© 2011 OSA

ToC Category:
Vision, Color, and Visual Optics

Original Manuscript: March 22, 2011
Revised Manuscript: April 19, 2011
Manuscript Accepted: April 20, 2011
Published: April 26, 2011

Virtual Issues
Vol. 6, Iss. 6 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Ying-Ying Diao and Xiang-Yang Liu, "Mysterious coloring: structural origin of color mixing for two breeds of Papilio butterflies," Opt. Express 19, 9232-9241 (2011)

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