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Integr Biol (Camb). 2009 Apr;1(4):324-9. doi: 10.1039/b820205b. Epub 2009 Feb 12.

The natural transparency and piezoelectric response of the Greta oto butterfly wing.

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  • 1Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


The Greta oto, or the "glasswing butterfly", is a member of the Ithomiini tribe. Although rare among lepidopteran, the G. oto's wings are naturally transparent. To understand the material properties of natural transparency, the various structures on the surface of the wings, both the transparent and brown "veins" and wing parameter regions were studied using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), reflectance spectrometry, transmission spectrometry and scanning probe microscopy (SPM) in order to investigate their local structure, periodic character, and electromechanical response. Nanosized protuberances in a highly ordered array were found on the surface of the transparent part similar to that of the "corneal nipple array" found in other insects as an antireflective device.

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