In this activity, museum visitors will be exposed to the term ‘Photonic Crystals’. They will see and explore some of the well-known photonic crystals in nature and will also be able observe one method that scientists use in trying to replicate this process.
The colors of the Blue Morpho's wing are generated by nanometer-sized structures on the wing's scales. In this image, light reflected from the scales creates the Morpho's characteristic iridescent blue color.
The colors of the Blue Morpho's wing are generated by nanometer-sized structures on the wing's scales. In this image, only the light passing through the wing is seen, revealing the wing's pigment-produced brown hue.
This scanning electron microscope image shows ridges on a Blue Morpho Butterfly wing scale. These ridges contain nanoscale structures that reflect light to create the Morpho's iridescent colors.
The overlapping scales on the wing of the Blue Morpho Butterfly contain nanoscale structures that reflect light to create iridescent colors. This scanning electron microscope image shows Morpho wing scales from above.
In this hands-on activity, visitors explore the structure of seashells and learn that seashells are a composite material made of both inorganic and organic materials. Visitors compare the mechanical properties of plaster bricks and dried sheets of glue, which helps them discover that both toughness and hardness are important mechanical properties. To see what a shell would be like if it were not so tough, visitors try to break normal shells and shells that have been either baked or soaked in bleach.
Mr. O talks about iridescence and Blue Morpho butterflies in another "O Wow" moment at the Children's Museum of Houston.
"Exploring Structures - Butterfly" is a hands-on activity in which visitors investigate how some butterfly wings get their color. They learn that some wings get their color from the nanoscale structures on the wings instead of pigments.
"Exploring Materials - Thin Films" is a hands-on activity in which visitors create a colorful bookmark using a super thin layer of nail polish on water. They learn that a thin film creates iridescent, rainbow colors.