Natural nanotechnology hidden in beetle skin

For years, optical engineers have tried unsuccessfully to create chemical polymers of a certain size that can affect light and make saturated colors. Such technology could be used to improve solar cells, fiber-optic cables, cosmetics, and paints. Now, a new study finds nanostructures similar to the ones found in the polymers—but at the desired optical scale—hidden in the bodies of some arthropods, Yale University announced. Using high-intensity x-rays, the scientists observed the color-producing nanostructures, known as biophotonic crystals, in the hairlike structures of some species of butterflies, weevils, bees, and even spiders and tarantulas, they report in a study published online in Nano Letters.

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