A biological quarter-wave retarder with excellent achromaticity in the visible wavelength region

N. W. Roberts, Tsyr-Huei Chiou, N. J. Marshall, T. W. Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Animals make use of a wealth of optical physics to control and manipulate light, for example, in creating reflective animal colouration and polarized light signals. Their precise optics often surpass equivalent man-made optical devices in both sophistication and efficiency. Here, we report a biophysical mechanism that creates a natural full-visible-range achromatic quarter-wave retarder in the eye of a stomatopod crustacean. Analogous, man-made retardation devices are important optical components, used in both scientific research and commercial applications for controlling polarized light. Typical synthetic retarders are not achromatic, and more elaborate designs, such as, multilayer subwavelength gratings or bicrystalline constructions, only achieve partial wavelength independence. In this work, we use both experimental measurements and theoretical modelling of the photoreceptor structure to illustrate how a novel interplay of intrinsic and form birefringence results in a natural achromatic optic that significantly outperforms current man-made optical devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-644
Number of pages4
JournalNature Photonics
Volume3
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Nov 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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

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