Optical and Quantum Electronics

, Volume 39, Issue 4–6, pp 295–303 | Cite as

Beyond butterflies—the diversity of biological photonic crystals

  • V. L. WelchEmail author
  • J.-P. Vigneron


When biological photonic crystals are discussed, butterfly photonic crystals are often cited as representative; in fact, numerous diverse biological photonic crystals exist and butterfly photonic crystals have several quirks when compared with others, with the consequence that considering them typical is in many ways unhelpful. In this paper, we give an overview of biological photonic crystals and discuss their typical features, specifically with regard to their periodicities, geometries, chemical compositions, the wavelengths they reflect and their band gaps. The low refractive index contrast and low mean refractive index: a universal feature of biological photonic crystals compared with artificial ones is highlighted and attention is drawn to their comparatively complex band diagrams.


Animal colouration Biological photonic crystals Colour Review 







Filling fraction


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physique du SolideFacultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la PaixNamurBelgium

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