Biomimicry of butterfly wing scale structure could cut bank fraud

Mathias Kolle, working with Professor Ullrich Steiner and Professor Jeremy Baumberg of the University of Cambridge, studied the Indonesian Peacock or Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio blumei), whose wing scales are composed of complex microscopic structures that resemble the inside of an egg carton. Because of their shape and the fact that they are made up of alternate layers of cuticle and air, these structures produce intense colors.

By using a combination of nanofabrication procedures (includingself-assembly and atomic layer deposition), Kolle and his colleagues made structurally identical copies of the butterfly scales, and these copies produced the same vivid colors as the butterflies’ wings.

The research led the team to a greater understanding of not only the physics behind the color of butterfly wings but also how butterflies may use structural color to change how they are seen by predators as compared to their own species.

Kolle believes the technology may be useful in increasing the security of printed material, such as bank notes.

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