Circularly polarized colour reflection from helicoidal structures in the beetle Plusiotis boucardi
Jewell, Sharon A.
Roberts, N. W.
University of Exeter; University of Manchester
New Journal of Physics
Institute of Physics and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft
A detailed optical study of the iridescent outer-shell of the beetle Plusiotis boucardi has revealed a novel microstructure which controls both the polarization and wavelength of reflected light. A previously unreported hexagonal array across the integument of the beetle exhibits highly localized regions of reflection of only red and green left-handed circularly-polarized light. Optical and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging reveals the origin of this effect as an array of 'bowl-shaped' recesses on the elytra that are formed from a dual-pitch helicoidal layer. Reflectivity spectra collected from the beetle are compared to theoretical data produced using a multi-layer optics model for modelling chiral, optically anisotropic media such as cholesteric liquid crystals. Excellent agreement is obtained between data and theory produced using a model that incorporates an upper isotropic layer (of cuticular wax), followed by a short pitch (310 (± 1) nm) overlying a longer pitch (370 (±1) nm) helicoidal layer of optically anisotropic material. These layers are backed by an absorbing underlayer. Synthetic replication of this form of structure may provide a route to the fabrication of tuneable micro-mirrors for optical applications.
Copyright © 2007 IOP Publishing Ltd and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft. This is the published version of an article published in New Journal of Physics Vol. 9, article 99. DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/9/4/099
9, article 99