Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bright white beetle dazzles scientists

19.01.2007
An obscure species of beetle could teach us how to produce brilliant white ultra-thin materials, according to a research team led by the University of Exeter.

The Cyphochilus beetle has a highly unusual brilliant white shell. New research by the University of Exeter and Imerys Minerals Ltd. and published in leading journal Science (19 January), reveals the secret to this beetle’s bizarre appearance.

The Cyphochilus beetle has evolved its brilliant whiteness using a unique surface structure. At one 200th of a millimetre thick, its scales are ten times thinner than a human hair. Industrial mineral coatings, such as those used on high quality paper, plastics and in some paints, would need to be twice as thick to be as white. According to ISO accredited measurements for whiteness and brightness, the beetle is much whiter and brighter than milk and the average human tooth, which are both considerably thicker.

‘This kind of brilliant whiteness from such a thin sample is rare in nature. As soon as I saw it, every instinct told me that the beetle was something very special,’ said Dr Pete Vukusic of the University of Exeter’s School of Physics. ‘In future, the paper we write on, the colour of our teeth and even the efficiency of the rapidly emerging new generation of white light sources will be significantly improved if technology can take and apply the design ideas we learn from this beetle.’

Colour in both nature and technology can be produced by pigmentation or by very regularly arranged layers or structures. Whiteness, however, is created through a random structure, which produces ‘scattering’ of all colours simultaneously. Using electron microscope imaging, Dr Vukusic studied the beetle’s body, head and legs and found them to be covered in long flat scales, which have highly random internal 3D structures. These irregular internal forms are the key to its uniquely effective light scattering. By balancing the size of the structures with the spacing between them, they scatter white light far more efficiently than the fibres in white paper or the enamel on teeth.

Native to South-east Asia, it is believed that the beetle’s whiteness has evolved to mimic local white fungi as a form of camouflage.

Biomimicry: Nature’s great designs

- In 2000, Californian scientists published research revealing how geckos scurry up walls and stick to ceilings. Their findings could help to develop a novel synthetic adhesive.

- In 2002, a German scientist showed how tiny bumps on the lotus leaf cause rain water to ball up and clean dirt from its surface. This microstructure has been an inspiration for paint and easy-clean furniture fibres.

- In 2005, Dr Pete Vukusic of the University of Exeter showed how butterflies give out fluorescent signals by absorbing and re-emitting ultra-violet light.

This technology has been in-place in nature for 30 million years, but scientists are just now developing high emission light emitting diodes (LEDs), which work in the same way. He also worked with cosmetics company L’Oréal to develop a pigment-free photonic make-up based on mimicking butterfly scales.

Sarah Hoyle | alfa
Further information:
http://www.exeter.ac.uk
http://newton.ex.ac.uk/butterflies

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>