Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cyphochilus holds key to whiter whites

Scientific American reports: [edited]

Scientists have identified the source of the dazzling whiteness of a beetle called Cyphochilus, and harnessing that knowledge could help make everything from paints to t-shirts more blindingly white.

Electron microscopy revealed the scales are made of a tangle of seemingly randomly orientated filaments, each about 250 nanometers wide. A random microscopic structure is key to producing a white colour, which results when all wavelengths of light scatter equally from a surface.

The brightness of the colour results from gaps of air between the filaments. Light scatters every time it passes between two materials that differ greatly in the speed of light through them, also called their refractive index. Like facets in a diamond, the more places light can scatter, the brighter the ultimate colour.


ConradGempf said...

I'm so thankful they didn't name it the iBug.

brett jordan said...

apparently Cisco owns the patent on that one... oh, not they don't... oh, yes they do... oh, no they don't... etc...