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Butterfly wing scales provide template for complex photonic structures

he reflected light toward the red portion of the spectrum. For instance, by increasing the coating thickness from 10 to 40 nanometers, the color reflected by the alumina wing scales shifted from the original blue to green, yellow, orange and eventually pink, Wang noted.

The complex nature of the structures would be impossible to create with any other process, he said. "This could provide a new way to make nanostructures that are replicated from biology," he said. "It allows us to fabricate truly tubular, three-dimensional interconnected nanostructures in a one-step process."

The atomic layer deposition process could potentially be used with other materials such as titanium oxide, and to replicate other biologically-inspired structures.

"As long as there is a void that the vapor phase can penetrate, an entire structure can be replicated using the ALD process," Wang said. "Regardless of what the substrate is and what the three-dimensional shape is, you can control it to the Angstrom level."

Next on the agenda may be the water strider, an insect that uses unique hydrophobic feet to skim gracefully across the surface of water. Wang would like to study the possibility of replicating the micron-scale structures of the insects feet, but he has found that obtaining samples may be difficult.

"I was trying to catch one of them, but they are very quick," he admitted. "I almost fell into the water."


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Contact: John Toon
jtoon@gatech.edu
404-894-6986
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
11-Dec-2006


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