UV radiation is a range of the electromagnetic spectrum that can be
perceived by several living organisms such as insects or birds but cannot be
seen by humans. As a consequence, many of these organisms have
evolved signalling functions in this range. Furthermore, exposure to UV has
a detrimental effect on their DNA. Therefore, they developed protection
against these rays through evolution. One way that gives rise to signals in
UV and protection from UV is the use of photonic structures. These
structures are known to exhibit a large variety of optical properties:
structural colours, antireflection, polarisation effects, etc. These properties
arise due to the interaction between light and photonic nanostructures made
of biopolymers. The varieties of structures and effects found in biological
systems, optimised for millions of years of evolution, allow us to elucidate
new concepts and possible applications through a bioinspiration approach.
In spite of a few studies regarding the response of specific species to UV
irradiation, this phenomenon is very much understudied.
This project comprises fundamental interdisciplinary research on the
interaction between natural photonic structures and UV. Such a study will
help to understand biological functions behind this UV response such as the
wider role of UV in signalling or strategies developed by natural systems for
protection against UV damage. The two objectives of the study will be: 1) to
characterise fully the optical response of natural photonic structures under
UV in the context of materials’ optical behaviour and w.r.t. the visual
perception of the associated species; 2) to understand this UV interaction
with these structures through detailed series of models and simulations, on
the basis of microscopy analyses.
With such a Fellowship, the applicant will have the opportunity to pursue his
investigation in the field of natural photonics and launch his career to the
next level with his own ideas.