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Title: Bio-inspired optical systems
Author: Lethbridge, Alfred John
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis presents an investigation into some of the structural colours that are produced in nature. There are many animals and plants that produce structural colour, with a particularly high structural colour diversity in insects. Of the species that exhibit structural colours, three species are the subjects for investigation of this thesis. Those comprise a group of beetles from South-East Asia, Torynorrhina flammea, a buttery, Parides sesostris and a fruit, Margaritaria nobilis, both from South American rainforests. The structures that produce the vivid colours of these species were analysed using electron microscopy. This information aided the design and creation of three inorganic, synthetic replicas of the natural structures. The fruit of Margaritaria nobilis was structurally analysed, yielding the discovery of a novel multilayer fibre. These fibres were cylindrical in design and were found to be layered together producing the epidermis of the fruit. The multilayer structure produced a vivid blue colour appearance, which is believed to offer a selective advantage because the colour deceives birds into thinking that the fruit contains nutritious flesh. This selective advantage earns M. nobilis the label of mimetic fruit. The structure found within the M. nobilis fruit epidermis inspired the synthesis of a structure which comprises single cylindrical multilayer fibres. The synthetic fibres were manufactured from elastic materials which allow the structure to be deformed under strain and, therefore, a change in colour can be observed. As the structure was stretched, this made the layers get thinner and, therefore, the colour of the fibre blue-shifted. The fibre was able to be stretched to over twice its original length which yields a shift in peak reflected wavelength of over 200 nm. Four beetles from the Torynorrhina flammea species were investigated with the aim of replicating the nanostructures responsible for their colour appearance. The initial interest in the beetles came from their strikingly vivid colour appearances. The structure responsible for the vivid colours in all four of the subspecies is a multilayer with high structural order and over 100 laminae. Both of these attributes contribute to the saturation of the colours exhibited. The multilayer was found to be intersected by an array of rods, the long axis of which is orthogonal to the surface. The rods are believed to be the cause of an interesting diffraction phenomenon exhibited by the beetles. Using imaging scatterometry, the structure was found to diffract the colour produced by the multilayers into an annulus around a specularly reflected white spot. This inspired the synthesis of a multilayer permeated with an array of holes with the aim of replicating a system that could reproduce the annular pattern of colour reflection. The initial synthesised system comprised a quarter-wave stack with a perfectly ordered hexagonal array of holes permeating the surface orthogonally. The sample displayed the scattering characteristics of a hexagonal array, and the reflection spectra of the multilayer stack. When disordered hexagonal arrays were milled into the structure with a focussed ion beam, the scattering pattern started to show more of the green colour from the multilayer and less of the ordered scattering pattern. The highly disordered, synthesised structure displayed no hexagonal scattering pattern, but instead it showed a highly scattered bluish-green colouration. One sample was created by directly mapping out the array of holes using an image of the original array from one of the beetle samples. This sample was expected the same annular diffraction pattern as the beetles, however, the sample instead exhibited the same scattering pattern as the highly disordered array. Some structurally coloured systems in nature have more than one light scattering structure, all of which contribute to the overall colour of the system. For complicated systems such as this, it is necessary to devise a technique to characterise the individual scattering structures separately. One such species that displays a complex, multicomponent system is Parides sesostris. The male of the species displays bright green patches on the dorsal side of the forewings which are made up of thousands of green wing scales. These green scales contain a 3D gyroid poly-crystal at centre with a membrane layer surrounding the underside of each scale and a scattering structure on top. Using focussed ion beam milling techniques allowed the individual characterisation of each of these structures. The gyroid poly-crystal was found to reflect not green but blue wavelengths. This led to the discovery by another group [1] that the scales contain at least one type of fluorophore. The removal of the membrane structure and some of the gyroid poly-crystal from the base of the scale resulted in the change of the overall scale structure from green to cyan. This suggests that the membrane maybe a significant source of fluorescence. Computational modelling, without fluorescence, suggests that the addition of the membrane layer to the gyroid does not shift the band-gap wavelengths; however, the overall reflection intensity does increase. The scattering structure on the top side of each scale is comprised a bi-grating which sits on top of the 3D gyroid structure. The long periodicity of the bi-grating protrudes above the surface, resulting in the very top layer of the scale to be a mono-grating. This whole structure decreases the angular-dependence of the colour by efficiently scattering the incident light into the gyroid and also scattering the reflected light from the gyroid, resulting in a double-scattering. FIB-milling was used to isolate the scattering part of the structure. Analysis of this component of the structure revealed that it was not a source of the green colour itself; however, it did show the characteristic scattering pattern of a mono-grating. The small periodicity of the bi-grating did not produce a scattering pattern since the periodicity is too small to produce optical diffraction at normal incidence. To characterise the effect of the fluorophores, the whole scale structure was photo-bleached using ultra-violet radiation for two months with the aim of destroying the fluorophores contained within the structure. The expected result occurred which was the blue-shifting of the peak reflected wavelengths. However, it could not be confirmed whether or not the photo-bleaching reduced the physical size of the light scattering structures which would, in theory, result in a blue-shift of the peak reflected wavelengths. The male P. sesostris green wing scales were also the subject for investigation for trying to make inorganic replicas of the gyroid-polycrystal. A surface sol-gel coating process was utilised to coat the green wing scales with titania. This coating process was performed using a few different methods. Half of the samples were coated with TiO2 and the other half with tin-doped TiO2. Half of each of these samples had their surfaces dendritically amplified before the coating processes and the other half were left untreated. The samples were coated with 25 surface sol-gel (SSG) cycles of each treatment at a time. After each 25 cycle treatment the samples were optically characterised. The total number of cycles applied to the samples at the end was 150. The addition of layers of titania resulted in a general red-shift that was higher for the tin-doped titania samples than for the titania samples. Another general trend found was that the samples that had their surfaces dendritically amplified, produced a lower red-shift in peak wavelength. This was contrary to the hypothesis that the amplification process was supposed to aid the SSG coating process and, therefore, increases the red-shift in peak wavelength.
Supervisor: Vukusic, Peter Sponsor: AFOSR
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Natural photonics ; butterflies ; beetle ; fruit ; mimetics ; mimicry ; structural colour ; photonics ; photonic crystals