Measuring and modelling optical scattering and the colour quality of white pierid butterfly scales
Luke, S. M.
Hallam, B. T.
Optical Society of America
Colouration in butterfly wings is due to the interaction of light with a covering of scales on both wing surfaces. A combination of nanostructure in the scales, which reflect or scatter light, and absorption from chemical pigments in the scales and wing substrate create the final colour appearance. We compared the wing scale morphology of the pierid butterfly Pieris rapae (Small White) to the reflectance spectra from its wings. Its wing scales contain a dense array of pterin pigment beads. A positive correlation between bead-array density and wing reflectance, at wavelengths where the pigment does not absorb, was identified and characterised. We observed, however, that light scatter from these beads does not account for all of the broadband light scatter observed from the wings. The rest of the scale structure plays an important role in achieving high light scatter. Furthermore, combining the underlying scattering and absorption mechanisms within the butterfly scales enabled us to quantify the optical characteristics of the samples using CIELab colour theory.
Copyright © 2009 Optical Society of America. This paper was published in Optics Express and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-17-17-14729 . Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.
17 (17), pp. 14729–14743