Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mystery behind the strongest creature in the world

11.03.2008
The strongest creature in the world, the Hercules Beetle, has a colour-changing trick that scientists have long sought to understand. Research published today, Tuesday, 11 March, in the New Journal of Physics, details an investigation into the structure of the specie’s peculiar protective shell which could aid design of ‘intelligent materials’.

The Hercules Beetle is remarkable, not only for its strength, able to carry up to 850 times its own weight, the protective outgrowth of the insects’ exoskeleton, aka its shell, also changes from green to black as its surrounding atmosphere gets more humid.

Researchers from the University of Namur in Belgium have used the latest imaging techniques to study the shell of the beetle - a scanning electronic microscope to determine the structure responsible for the colour and a spectrophotometer to analyze how the light interacts with this structure.

The light interferes with the structure to produce the green colour of the shell. When water penetrates through the widely-open porous layers, it destroys the interferences phenomenon leading to a black colouration.

The researchers used dry specimen of the beetle’s shell to test in laboratory conditions.

The beetle, usually found in the rainforests of Columbia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Brazil, is still rather mysterious though. As although dry specimen of the shell could be relied on to change when humid conditions were introduced, the living specie that researchers also had in the lab were not as consistent.

As to why the beetle changes colour, question marks also remain. Some have suggested that it is to do with protection – it becomes more humid at night and is therefore good for cover to turn black. Others have suggested that it is to do with warmth absorption at night. Questions remain.

The techniques used to study the beetle’s morphology included new scanning techniques for electron images which over recent years have been refined to yield great depth and therefore help to create three-dimensional images of miniscule structures.

Marie Rassart, who did the research at the University of Namur, said, “The sort of structural behaviour displayed by the Hercules Beetle could be an important property for ‘intelligent’ materials’. Such materials could be put to work as humidity sensors. This could be useful for example in food processing plants to monitor the moisture level.”

Joe Winters | alfa
Further information:
http://stacks.iop.org/NJP/10/033014

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling
29.03.2017 | New Jersey Institute of Technology

nachricht NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts
28.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>