A highly conspicuous mineralized composite photonic architecture in the translucent shell of the blue-rayed limpet

TitleA highly conspicuous mineralized composite photonic architecture in the translucent shell of the blue-rayed limpet
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsLi, L, Kolle, S, Weaver, JC, Ortiz, C, Aizenberg, J, Kolle, M
JournalNature Communications
Volume6
Pagination6322
Date Published2015/02//
Abstract

Many species rely on diverse selections of entirely organic photonic structures for the manipulation of light and the display of striking colours. Here we report the discovery of a mineralized hierarchical photonic architecture embedded within the translucent shell of the blue-rayed limpet Patella pellucida. The bright colour of the limpet's stripes originates from light interference in a periodically layered zig-zag architecture of crystallographically co-oriented calcite lamellae. Beneath the photonic multilayer, a disordered array of light-absorbing particles provides contrast for the blue colour. This unique mineralized manifestation of a synergy of two distinct optical elements at specific locations within the continuum of the limpet's translucent protective shell ensures the vivid shine of the blue stripes, which can be perceived under water from a wide range of viewing angles. The stripes' reflection band coincides with the spectral range of minimal light absorption in sea water, raising intriguing questions regarding their functional significance.