Controlled replication of butterfly wings for achieving tunable photonic properties

Nano Lett. 2006 Oct;6(10):2325-31. doi: 10.1021/nl061851t.


The fine structure of the wing scale of a Morpho Peleides butterfly was examined carefully, and the entire configuration was completely replicated by a uniform Al(2)O(3) coating through a low-temperature ALD process. An inverted structure was achieved by removing the butterfly wing template at high temperature, forming a polycrystalline Al(2)O(3) shell structure with precisely controlled thickness. Other than the copy of the morphology of the structure, the optical property, such as the existence of PBG, was also inherited by the alumina replica. Reflection peaks at the violet/blue range were detected on both original wings and their replica, while a simple alumina coating shifted the reflection peak to longer wavelength because of the change of periodicity and refraction index. The alumina replicas also exhibited similar functional structures as waveguide and beam splitter, which may be used as the building blocks for photonic ICs with high reproducibility and lower fabrication cost compared to traditional lithography techniques.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum Oxide / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Biomimetics / methods*
  • Butterflies / chemistry*
  • Crystallization / methods
  • Light
  • Materials Testing
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / ultrastructure*
  • Photochemistry / methods*
  • Photons
  • Surface Properties
  • Wings, Animal / chemistry*


  • Aluminum Oxide