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 Spinning rugby balls: The rotation of the most massive galaxies
23.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam

nachricht Turning entanglement upside down
23.05.2018 | Universität Innsbruck

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: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Spinning rugby balls: The rotation of the most massive galaxies

23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Raiding the rape field

23.05.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Turning entanglement upside down

23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>