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Nature. 2001 Jan 4;409(6816):36-7.

Photonic engineering. Aphrodite's iridescence.

Author information

1
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK.

Abstract

The most intense colours displayed in nature result from either multilayer reflectors or linear diffraction gratings. Here we investigate the spectacular iridescence of a spine (notoseta) from the sea mouse Aphrodita sp. (Polychaeta: Aphroditidae). The spine normally appears to be deep red in colour, but when light is incident perpendicular to the axis of the spine, different colours are seen as stripes running parallel to the axis of the spine; over a range of smaller incident angles, the complete visible spectrum is reflected with a reflectivity of 100% to the human eye. The simple structure responsible for this effect is a remarkable example of photonic engineering by a living organism.

PMID:
11343102
DOI:
10.1038/35051168
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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