In this week’s “Weekly Dose of Woah”, check out this amazing little feat of nature:
This creature, Sapphirinid Copepods, leverages what is known as “tunable photonic systems”. That means it can change (i.e. tune) the way it reflects light (i.e. photons) on an as-needed basis. You may have seen chameleons and squids engage in very similar “color changing” feats of nature.
According to the American Chemical Society:
These tiny, little-known copepods appear to flash in and out of existence, and scientists are figuring out their trick. Their findings could inspire the next generation of reflective coatings and other optical technologies.
The science behind this mind-bending functionality is quite complex. According to the latest research:
Males of sapphirinid copepods use regularly alternating layers of hexagonal-shaped guanine crystals and cytoplasm to produce spectacular structural colors. In order to understand the mechanism by which the different colors are produced, we measured the reflectance of live individuals and then characterized the organization of the crystals and the cytoplasm layers in the same individuals using cryo-SEM. On the basis of these measurements, we calculated the expected reflectance spectra and found that they are strikingly similar to the measured ones. We show that variations in the cytoplasm layer thickness are mainly responsible for the different reflected colors and also that the copepod color strongly depends on the angular orientation relative to the incident light, which can account for its appearance and disappearance during spiral swimming in the natural habitat.
Read up more on this fascinating little creature and how it “dissapears” here.
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