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.
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 iridescent colors of the Blue Morpho Butterfly's wings are produced by nanostructures that reflect different wavelengths of light.
The Blue Morpho is common in Central and South America and known for its bright blue wings. However, these iridescent colors are created not by pigments in the wing tissues but instead by the way light interacts with nanometer-sized structures on the Morpho's wing scales. This effect is being studied as a model in the development of new fabrics, dye-free paints, and anti-counterfeit technologies for currency.
The tree-like structures in this scanning electron microscope image of a cross section of a butterfly wing are on the undersides of the Morpho's wing scale ridges. These microribs reflect light to create iridescent colors.