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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2013 Feb;87(2):022705. Epub 2013 Feb 13.

Finite element modeling of the radiative properties of Morpho butterfly wing scales.

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  • 1Institut des Nanosciences de Paris, UMR 7588 CNRS - Universit√© Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris 6, Case 840, Campus Jussieu, 4 place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France.


With the aim of furthering the explanation of iridescence in Morpho butterflies, we developed an optical model based on the finite-element (FE) method, taking more accurately into account the exact morphology of the wing, origin of iridescence. We modeled the photonic structure of a basal scale of the Morpho rhetenor wing as a three-dimensional object, infinite in one direction, with a shape copied from a TEM image, and made out of a slightly absorbing dielectric material. Periodic boundary conditions were used in the FE method to model the wing periodic structure and perfectly matched layers permitted the free-space scattering computation. Our results are twofold: first, we verified on a simpler structure, that our model yields the same result as the rigorous coupled wave analysis (RCWA), and second, we demonstrated that it is necessary to assume an absorption gradient in the true structure, to account for experimental reflectivity measured on a real wing.

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