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Biomimetics

Biomimetics combines the study of natural materials with the adoption of design principles to improve what we can construct. We study the optical biomimetics of plants and insects, for intriguing photonic effects.

Butterflymultilayer structural colour in microdishes
This colourful butterfly combines green and blue reflectors on its wing scales using micron-scale hemispherical dishes coated with layers. We adopted this approach to make unusual stuctural colours from multilayers in microdishes.

Poliairidescent fruit
This fruit has a metallic blue/purple hue created from not from pigments by multilayers of cellulose in its surface layers. Even when dry and 70 years old, these fruit sparkle. The optical scattering inside such structures is highly complex, and we study how the structure has been optimised to give a cool blue.

Buttercupscatter and reflection of buttercups
We study how different colours of light are scattered from the petals of buttercups and show that they are optimised for the UV eyes of insects, not ourselves.

Squidlearning from squids to make reflectin colours
Squids can use and change colours at will. Some of their tricks use a protein called reflectin which can stack into multilayers that reflect specific colours, a structural-based colour. We worked with the Cambridge iGEM team to express this protein in bacteria, and explore the photonic effects.

References

[3] “Pointillist structural colour in Pollia condensata fruit”, PNAS (2012)

[2] “Mimicry of Papilio blumei’s colourful wing scale structure”, Nature Nanotechnology 5, 511 (2010)

[1] “Directional Scattering from…: how the buttercup lights up your chin”, J.R.Soc.Interface (2011); DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2011.0759