Journal article

Circularly polarized reflection from the scarab beetle Chalcothea smaragdina: light scattering by a dual photonic structure

  • McDonald, Luke T. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Exeter, UK - School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, North Mall Campus, Cork, Republic of Ireland
  • Finlayson, Ewan D. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Exeter, UK
  • Wilts, Bodo D. Adolphe Merkle Institute, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Vukusic, Pete Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Exeter, UK
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Published in:
  • Interface Focus. - 2017, vol. 7, no. 4, p. 20160129
English Helicoidal architectures comprising various polysaccharides, such as chitin and cellulose, have been reported in biological systems. In some cases, these architectures exhibit stunning optical properties analogous to ordered cholesteric liquid crystal phases. In this work, we characterize the circularly polarized reflectance and optical scattering from the cuticle of the beetle Chalcothea smaragdina (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Cetoniinae) using optical experiments, simulations and structural analysis. The selective reflection of left-handed circularly polarized light is attributed to a Bouligand-type helicoidal morphology within the beetle's exocuticle. Using electron microscopy to inform electromagnetic simulations of this anisotropic stratified medium, the inextricable connection between the colour appearance of C. smaragdina and the periodicity of its helicoidal rotation is shown. A close agreement between the model and the measured reflectance spectra is obtained. In addition, the elytral surface of C. smaragdina possesses a blazed diffraction grating-like surface structure, which affects the diffuse appearance of the beetle's reflected colour, and therefore potentially enhances crypsis among the dense foliage of its rainforest habitat.
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
AMI - Physique de la matière molle
  • English
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