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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: J. H. Eberly
  • Vol. 5, Iss. 4 — Aug. 16, 1999
  • pp: 87–92

Effects of a butterfly scale microstructure on the iridescent color observed at different angles

Haruna Tada, Seth E. Mann, Ioannis N. Miaoulis, and Peter Y. Wong  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 5, Issue 4, pp. 87-92 (1999)

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Multilayer thin-film structures in butterfly wing scales produce a colorful iridescence from reflected sunlight. Because of optical phenomena, changes in the angle of incidence of light and the viewing angle of an observer result in shifts in the color of butterfly wings. Colors ranging from green to purple, which are due to nonplanar specular reflection, can be observed on Papilio blumei iridescent scales. This refers to a phenomenon in which the curved surface patterns in the thin-film structure cause the specular component of the reflected light to be directed at various angles while affecting the spectral reflectivity at the same time by changing the optical path length through the structure. We determined the spectral reflectivities of P. blumei iridescent scales numerically by using models of a butterfly scale microstructure and experimentally by using a microscale-reflectance spectrometer. The numerical models accurately predict the shifts in spectral reflectivity observed experimentally.

© Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(240.0240) Optics at surfaces : Optics at surfaces
(310.6870) Thin films : Thin films, other properties

ToC Category:
Focus Issue: Light and Color

Original Manuscript: July 12, 1999
Published: August 16, 1999

Haruna Tada, Seth Mann, Ioannis Miaoulis, and Peter Wong, "Effects of a butterfly scale microstructure on the iridescent color observed at different angles," Opt. Express 5, 87-92 (1999)

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  1. I. N. Miaoulis, P. Y. Wong, and B. D. Heilman, "The effect of microscale and macroscale patterns on the radiative heating of multilayer thin-film structures," in Microscale Heat Transfer, Vol. 291 of ASME Heat Transfer Proceedings Series (American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New York, 1994), pp. 27-34.
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  7. P. Y. Wong and I. N. Miaoulis, "Microscale reflectance spectrometry of thin-film structures in butterfly wing scales," in Advances in Heat and Mass Transfer in Biotechnology, Vol. 322 of ASME Heat Transfer Proceedings Series (American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New York, 1995), pp. 5-10.
  8. F. P. Incropera and D. P. De Witt, Introduction to Heat Transfer, 2nd ed. (Wiley, New York, 1990), p. 693.

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