Even as a child, I was fascinated by the colors in nature, such as rainbows, butterflies and flowers. This fascination developed into curiosity with age, and as my school studies developed, I became particularly interested in the scientific aspects of the origin and development of colors.
I wanted to answer the question: How are the different colors of the butterfly wings related to the nanostructures of scales and pigments?
The color on the butterfly wings results either from the pigmentation (chemical color) or from the structure (physical color) of the wing scales. Colors such as yellow, black, red and brown are mainly created by pigments. The interaction of light and structures in and on the surface of butterfly wings, often the size of the wavelength of the light, results in physical colors. These colors are usually bright and dependent on the viewing angle (unlike chemical pigments that spread light diffusely). The colors produced here are usually golden, green, purple and blue.
But, where do these colors come from and why do certain species dazzle more than others? To get to the heart of the matter, I identified two key questions:
• How are the different colors of the butterfly wings related to the nanostructures of scales and to the pigments?
• Using the nanostructure, can you find out the wavelength of the reflected light?
In this work, I focus on the structural colors of butterflies and study the physics behind them. This includes parachuting in areas such as diffraction gratings, scattering of light, interference in thin films, and multilayer interference.
In order to experience the greatest possible diversity, I selected butterflies from different species for the measurements. Using the spectrometer, I measured the light reflected from butterflies. High-resolution microscopes such as the laser microscope and the scanning electron microscope gave me the opportunity to study the detailed nanostructures of the wing. In addition, I was able to analyze and evaluate my results using existing physical models and MATLAB simulations (Maxwell equations).