Intelligent Design

Optical Metamaterials and the Hercules Beetle

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You may recall that objects have particular colors because, at the molecular level, light rays at certain frequencies (corresponding to certain colors) are reflected while at other frequencies the light is absorbed. In other words, an object’s color has to do with its chemistry. But, as David Tyler points out here, coloration can also arise from repeating, detailed submicron geometrical structures at the object’s surface. These surface structures are finely tuned to interact with and control the incoming light, including controlling the frequencies, and hence color, of the reflected light. In these cases, the object’s color has to do with its repeating surface geometry, rather than its chemistry.  Read more

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