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Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics


  • Editors: Andrew Dunn and Anthony Durkin
  • Vol. 8, Iss. 2 — Mar. 4, 2013

Improved light extraction in the bioluminescent lantern of a Photuris firefly (Lampyridae)

Annick Bay, Peter Cloetens, Heikki Suhonen, and Jean Pol Vigneron  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 21, Issue 1, pp. 764-780 (2013)

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A common problem of light sources emitting from an homogeneous high-refractive index medium into air is the loss of photons by total internal reflection. Bioluminescent organisms, as well as artificial devices, have to face this problem. It is expected that life, with its mechanisms for evolution, would have selected appropriate optical structures to get around this problem, at least partially. The morphology of the lantern of a specific firefly in the genus Photuris has been examined. The optical properties of the different parts of this lantern have been modelled, in order to determine their positive or adverse effect with regard to the global light extraction. We conclude that the most efficient pieces of the lantern structure are the misfit of the external scales (which produce abrupt roughness in air) and the lowering of the refractive index at the level of the cluster of photocytes, where the bioluminescent production takes place.

© 2013 OSA

OCIS Codes
(250.3680) Optoelectronics : Light-emitting polymers
(260.3800) Physical optics : Luminescence
(290.1990) Scattering : Diffusion
(330.5370) Vision, color, and visual optics : Physiological optics

ToC Category:
Optical Devices

Original Manuscript: September 28, 2012
Revised Manuscript: November 30, 2012
Manuscript Accepted: November 30, 2012
Published: January 8, 2013

Virtual Issues
Vol. 8, Iss. 2 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Annick Bay, Peter Cloetens, Heikki Suhonen, and Jean Pol Vigneron, "Improved light extraction in the bioluminescent lantern of a Photuris firefly (Lampyridae)," Opt. Express 21, 764-780 (2013)

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