Circularly polarized colour reflection from helicoidal structures in the beetle Plusiotis boucardi

S. A. Jewell, P. Vukusic, N. W. Roberts

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A detailed optical study of the iridescent outer-shell of the beetle Plusiotis boucardi has revealed a novel microstructure which controls both the polarization and wavelength of reflected light. A previously unreported hexagonal array across the integument of the beetle exhibits highly localized regions of reflection of only red and green left-handed circularly-polarized light. Optical and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging reveals the origin of this effect as an array of 'bowl-shaped' recesses on the elytra that are formed from a dual-pitch helicoidal layer. Reflectivity spectra collected from the beetle are compared to theoretical data produced using a multi-layer optics model for modelling chiral, optically anisotropic media such as cholesteric liquid crystals. Excellent agreement is obtained between data and theory produced using a model that incorporates an upper isotropic layer (of cuticular wax), followed by a short pitch (310 (±1) nm) overlying a longer pitch (370 (±1) nm) helicoidal layer of optically anisotropic material. These layers are backed by an absorbing underlayer. Synthetic replication of this form of structure may provide a route to the fabrication of tuneable micro-mirrors for optical applications. © IOP Publishing Ltd and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number99
    JournalNew Journal of Physics
    Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2007


    Dive into the research topics of 'Circularly polarized colour reflection from helicoidal structures in the beetle Plusiotis boucardi'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this