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Proc Biol Sci. Jul 22, 2002; 269(1499): 1417–1421.
PMCID: PMC1691047
Mechanisms of structural colour in the Morpho butterfly: cooperation of regularity and irregularity in an iridescent scale.
Shuichi Kinoshita, Shinya Yoshioka, and Kenji Kawagoe
Department of Physics, Graduate School of Science, Osaka University, Toyonaka, Japan.
Shuichi Kinoshita: skino/at/
Structural colour in the Morpho butterfly originates from submicron structure within a scale and, for over a century, its colour and reflectivity have been explained as interference of light due to the multilayer of cuticle and air. However, this model fails to explain the extraordinarily uniform colour of the wing with respect to the observation direction. We have performed microscopic, optical and theoretical investigations, and have found that the separate lamellar structure with irregular heights is extremely important. Using a simple model, we have shown that the combined action of interference and diffraction is essential for the structural colour of the Morpho butterfly.
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Selected References
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  • Vukusic P, Sambles JR, Lawrence CR, Wootton RJ. Quantified interference and diffraction in single Morpho butterfly scales. Proc Biol Sci. 1999 Jul 22;266(1427):1403–1403. [PMC free article]
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