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Opt Express. 2006 May 29;14(11):4891-7.

Detailed optical study of the transparent wing membranes of the dragonfly Aeshna cyanea.


The optical properties of transparent single membranes on the wings of the dragonfly Aeshna cyanea have been investigated. These membranes comprise one central thick cuticular layer covered dorsally and ventrally with typical odonatan wax pruinosity. Optical characterisation of individual membranes reveals they can support optical guided modes comprising differential polarisation reflection. We suggest this may offer an intraspecific signalling channel. The guided modes' characteristics depend on membrane thickness and the nature of the wax pruinosity. We accurately modelled multiple optical data sets simultaneously, thereby inaugurally quantifying the roughness of the pruinosity and the complex refractive indices of the wax and the odonatan cuticle.


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