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Optical and Mechanical Properties of Biologically Occurring Microstructures
Maryanne C. J. Large, Jacqueline Hayes, Leon Poladian, Michael V. Swain and Stephen G. Bosi

The optical microstructures within iridescent butterfly scales produce a variety of extraordinary optical effects. One-, two- and three-dimensional periodic structures have been identified in butterfly scales [1–9], including structures that have not been widely studied such as compound [8] and gyroid [9] structures. Increasingly, researchers seek to mimic this effect by using butterfly scales as templates to make photonic crystals [10–12]. Simple structures have already been incorporated into commercial products as replacements for pigments. The interaction of mechanical and optical effects could be interesting for sensing or tuning effects. A consideration of the mechanical properties associated with optical structure may have important consequences, including the ability to produce strain-tuning of optical effects, fracture-sensing and, more intriguingly, the possibility of structural colour that is relatively invariant to mechanical deformations.

Keywords: Biological microstructures, opto-mechanical materials, Lepidoptera, fracture-sensing, strain-tuning.

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