Theory of chirped photonic crystals in biological broadband reflectors

Caleb Q. Cook, Ariel Amir

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Photonic crystals with slowly varying lattice period are responsible for broadband light reflectance in many biological contexts, ranging from the coatings of shiny beetles to the eye shine of butterflies. We utilize a quantum scattering analogy to obtain an approximate but closed-form expression for the reflectance of these adiabatically chirped photonic crystals (ACPCs). This expression allows us to devise a method for designing ACPCs with tailored reflectance spectra and obtain an estimate for the minimal number of layers required to exceed a given reflectance threshold. Comparison against the number of layers found in ACPCs throughout nature gives a quantitative measure of the optimality of chirped biological reflectors. Together, these results elucidate the design of chirped reflectors in nature and their possible application to future optical technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1436-1439
Number of pages4
Issue number12
Early online date2 Dec 2016
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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