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J Opt Soc Am A Opt Image Sci Vis. 2007 Aug;24(8):2418-25.

Observation and modeling of polarized light from scarab beetles.

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Department of Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


The light reflected from scarab beetles illuminated with unpolarized white light is analyzed ellipsometrically and displayed as the sum of an elliptically polarized spectrum I(p) and an unpolarized spectrum I(u). A chirped stack of chiral resonators, each with a characteristic Bragg wavelength and partial realignment of birefringent material to a fixed axis, is proposed as a model for simulation of both reflection and polarization spectra. Possible mechanisms that effectively eliminate impedance mismatch at the air-elytron interface and allow some beetles to exhibit nearly perfect circularly polarized reflections are discussed. Results are presented for three representative beetles, Ischiosopha bifasciata, which is shown to be a narrowband left-circular polarizer; Chrysophora chrysochlora, a broadband left-circular polarizer; and Chrysina woodi, an elliptical polarizer. The methods that are developed are applicable to the more general problem of synthesis of reflectors with prescribed reflection and polarization spectra.

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