Structural Colours in Lepidopteran Scales

Sébastien R. Mouchet, Pete Vukusic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Photonic structures incorporated in lepidopteran scales are responsible for a very broad range of optical effects: iridescence, narrow-band reflection, large solid-angle scattering, polarisation effects, additive colour mixing and more. They have been the most investigated natural photonic structures for a long time. Such studies provide both understanding of the optical mechanisms and the biological functions behind these effects as well as inspiration for the design and development of novel photonic materials through a bioinspiration approach. In this chapter, research regarding structural colours in lepidopteran wing scales is reviewed through the classification of the related photonic structures. Selected examples of these structures are used to illustrate how such optical effects are brought about.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-53
Number of pages53
JournalAdvances in Insect Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological photonic structure
  • Butterfly scales
  • Colour
  • Diffraction grating
  • Multilayer
  • Natural photonics
  • Photonic crystals
  • Photonic nanostructure
  • Randomly disordered photonic structure
  • Thin film

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  • Projects


    • 1 Oral presentation

    Structural colours in Nature

    Sébastien Mouchet (Speaker)

    14 Dec 2017

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


    Postdoctoral Fellowship for Excellence program WBI.World

    MOUCHET, Sebastien (Recipient), 1 Oct 2015

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

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