Additive Photonic Colors in the Brazilian Diamond Weevil, Entimus imperialis

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Structurally colored nano-architectures found in living organisms are complex optical materials, giving rise to multi-scale visual effects. In arthropods, these structures often consist of porous biopolymers and form natural photonic crystals. A signature of the structural origin of coloration in insects is iridescence, i.e., color changes with the viewing angle. In the scales located on the elytra of the Brazilian weevil Entimus imperialis (Curculionidae), three-dimensional photonic crystals are observed. On one hand, each of them interacts independently with light, producing a single color which is observed by optical microscopy and ranges from blue to orange. On the other hand, the color perceived by the naked eye is due to multi-length-scale light effects involving different orientations of a single photonic crystal. This disorder in crystal orientations alters the light propagation in such a way that the crystal iridescence is removed. Entimus imperialis is therefore a remarkable example of additive photonic colors produced by a complex multi-scale organic architecture. In order to study this specific natural photonic structure, electron microscopy is used. The structure turns out to be formed of a single type of photonic crystal with different orientations within each scale on the elytra. Our modeling approach takes into account the disorder in the photonic crystals and explains why the structure displays bright colors at the level of individual scales and a non-iridescent green color in the far-field.
Original languageEnglish
Article number848003
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalProc. of SPIE
Issue number84803
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2012
EventSPIE Conference - Optics+Photonics - San Diego, United States
Duration: 11 Aug 2012 → …


  • Beetle scale
  • natural photonic crystals
  • photonic bandgap materials
  • structural color
  • iridescence
  • Coleoptera
  • nanoarchitecture
  • bioinspiration
  • biomimetics
  • biomaterials


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