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Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Mar 11;106(10):103902. Epub 2011 Mar 11.

Circular dichroism in biological photonic crystals and cubic chiral nets.

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Theoretische Physik, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, 91058 Erlangen, Germany.


Nature provides impressive examples of chiral photonic crystals, with the notable example of the cubic so-called srs network (the label for the chiral degree-three network modeled on SrSi2) or gyroid structure realized in wing scales of several butterfly species. By a circular polarization analysis of the band structure of such networks, we demonstrate strong circular dichroism effects: The butterfly srs microstructure, of cubic I4(1)32 symmetry, shows significant circular dichroism for blue to ultraviolet light, that warrants a search for biological receptors sensitive to circular polarization. A derived synthetic structure based on four like-handed silicon srs nets exhibits a large circular polarization stop band of a width exceeding 30%. These findings offer design principles for chiral photonic devices.

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