Interplay of order and disorder in biophotonic materials

Investigating the reasons behind partial disorder in Nature's photonic materials

Project leader: U. Steiner

Team: F. Scheffold, E. Dufresne, M. Lattuada

The typical absence of perfect order in natural photonic materials raises the (currently unresolved) question, whether partial order represents the best achievable compromise (avoiding higher metabolic costs of generating better order) or whether such disorder is the result of evolution to create novel optical effects serving the needs of the organisms. While uncontrolled partial order leads to diluted (pale) colour effects, Nature has evolved a control of partial order that achieves strong colour effects. These partially disordered photonic materials most likely rely on special structural correlations, such as “stealthy hyper­uni­formity”. It is presently however unclear whether stealthy hyper­uni­formity is found in Nature, and its implementation in a man-made material in the visible optical spectrum has not yet been reported. By creating photonic materials with “dialled-in” dis­order, this project aims to unravel the order-disorder interplay in natural photonic materials and to develop strategies to manufacture these.

Main investigator

Involved people