Controlled fluorescence in a beetle’s photonic structure and its sensitivity to environmentally induced changes

Sébastien R. Mouchet, Michaël Lobet, Branko Kolaric, Anna M. Kaczmarek, Rik van Deun, Peter Vukusic, Olivier Deparis, Eloise Van Hooijdonk

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The scales covering the elytra of the male Hoplia coerulea beetle contain fluorophores embedded within a porous photonic structure. The photonic structure controls both insect colour (reflected light) and fluorescence emission. Herein, the effects of water-induced changes on the fluorescence emission from the beetle were investigated. The fluorescence emission peak wavelength was observed to blue-shift on water immersion of the elytra whereas its reflectance peak wavelength was observed to red-shift. Time-resolved fluorescence measurements, together with optical simulations, confirmed that the radiative emission is controlled by a naturally engineered photonic bandgap while the elytra are in the dry state, whereas non-radiative relaxation pathways dominate the emission response of wet elytra.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20162334
JournalRoyal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Issue number1845
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2016



  • Beetle scale
  • Fluorescence
  • Natural photonic crystal
  • Photonic bandgap materials
  • Structural colour

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