Double scattering of light from Biophotonic Nanostructures with short-range order

Opt Express. 2010 May 24;18(11):11942-8. doi: 10.1364/OE.18.011942.


We investigate the physical mechanism for color production by isotropic nanostructures with short-range order in bird feather barbs. While the primary peak in optical scattering spectra results from constructive interference of singly-scattered light, many species exhibit secondary peaks with distinct characteristic. Our experimental and numerical studies show that these secondary peaks result from double scattering of light by the correlated structures. Without an analog in periodic or random structures, such a phenomenon is unique for short-range ordered structures, and has been widely used by nature for non-iridescent structural coloration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Color
  • Feathers / chemistry*
  • Feathers / cytology*
  • Light
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / ultrastructure*
  • Refractometry
  • Scattering, Radiation