Photonic nanoarchitectures in butterflies and beetles: valuable sources for bioinspiration



Nature began developing photonic nanoarchitectures millions of years before humankind. Often, in the living world, color is a communication channel that may influence the chance of the individual surviving as well as the chance to reproduce. Therefore, natural color-generating structures are highly optimized by many millennia of evolution. In this review, a survey is presented of the development of natural photonic crystal-type nanoarchitectures occurring in butterflies and beetles from the standpoint of physics and materials science, covering the past ten years. One-, two-, and three-dimensional structures are reviewed, emphasizing the role that disorder, or irregularity, may play in natural nanoarchitectures to achieve certain visual effects. The characterization, modeling methods, and rapidly growing number of bioinspired or biomimetic applications are discussed.