Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bright White Beetle Dazzles Scientists

Date:
January 20, 2007
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
An obscure species of beetle could teach us how to produce brilliant white ultra-thin materials, according to a research team led by the University of Exeter. The Cyphochilus beetle has a highly unusual brilliant white shell. New research by the University of Exeter and Imerys Minerals Ltd. and published in leading journal Science (19 January), reveals the secret to this beetle's bizarre appearance.

Dr. Pete Vukusic with Cyphochilus specimens.
Credit: Image copyright Pete Vukusic - University of Exeter

An obscure species of beetle could teach us how to produce brilliant white ultra-thin materials, according to a research team led by the University of Exeter.

The Cyphochilus beetle has a highly unusual brilliant white shell. New research by the University of Exeter and Imerys Minerals Ltd. and published in leading journal Science (19 January), reveals the secret to this beetle's bizarre appearance.

The Cyphochilus beetle has evolved its brilliant whiteness using a unique surface structure. At one 200th of a millimetre thick, its scales are ten times thinner than a human hair. Industrial mineral coatings, such as those used on high quality paper, plastics and in some paints, would need to be twice as thick to be as white. According to ISO accredited measurements for whiteness and brightness, the beetle is much whiter and brighter than milk and the average human tooth, which are both considerably thicker.

'This kind of brilliant whiteness from such a thin sample is rare in nature. As soon as I saw it, every instinct told me that the beetle was something very special,' said Dr Pete Vukusic of the University of Exeter's School of Physics. 'In future, the paper we write on, the colour of our teeth and even the efficiency of the rapidly emerging new generation of white light sources will be significantly improved if technology can take and apply the design ideas we learn from this beetle.'

Colour in both nature and technology can be produced by pigmentation or by very regularly arranged layers or structures. Whiteness, however, is created through a random structure, which produces 'scattering' of all colours simultaneously. Using electron microscope imaging, Dr Vukusic studied the beetle's body, head and legs and found them to be covered in long flat scales, which have highly random internal 3D structures. These irregular internal forms are the key to its uniquely effective light scattering. By balancing the size of the structures with the spacing between them, they scatter white light far more efficiently than the fibres in white paper or the enamel on teeth.

Native to South-east Asia, it is believed that the beetle's whiteness has evolved to mimic local white fungi as a form of camouflage.

Biomimicry: Nature's great designs

In 2000, Californian scientists published research revealing how geckos scurry up walls and stick to ceilings. Their findings could help to develop a novel synthetic adhesive.

In 2002, a German scientist showed how tiny bumps on the lotus leaf cause rain water to ball up and clean dirt from its surface. This microstructure has been an inspiration for paint and easy-clean furniture fibres.

In 2005, Dr Pete Vukusic of the University of Exeter showed how butterflies give out fluorescent signals by absorbing and re-emitting ultra-violet light. This technology has been in-place in nature for 30 million years, but scientists are just now developing high emission light emitting diodes (LEDs), which work in the same way. He also worked with cosmetics company L'Orιal to develop a pigment-free photonic make-up based on mimicking butterfly scales.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Bright White Beetle Dazzles Scientists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070118161742.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2007, January 20). Bright White Beetle Dazzles Scientists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070118161742.htm
University of Exeter. "Bright White Beetle Dazzles Scientists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/01/070118161742.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) — ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins