Fine structure and optical properties of biological polarizers in crustaceans and cephalopods

Tsyr Huei Chiou, Roy L. Caldwell, Roger T. Hanlonc, Thomas W. Cronina

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Citations (Scopus)


The lighting of the underwater environment is constantly changing due to attenuation by water, scattering by suspended particles, as well as the refraction and reflection caused by the surface waves. These factors pose a great challenge for marine animals which communicate through visual signals, especially those based on color. To escape this problem, certain cephalopod mollusks and stomatopod crustaceans utilize the polarization properties of light. While the mechanisms behind the polarization vision of these two animal groups are similar, several distinctive types of polarizers (i.e. the structure producing the signal) have been found in these animals. To gain a better knowledge of how these polarizers function, we studied the relationships between fine structures and optical properties of four types of polarizers found in cephalopods and stomatopods. Although all the polarizers share a somewhat similar spectral range, around 450-550 nm, the reflectance properties of the signals and the mechanisms used to produce them have dramatic differences. In cephalopods, stack-plates polarizers produce the polarization patterns found on the arms and around their eyes. In stomatopods, we have found one type of beam-splitting polarizer based on photonic structures and two absorptive polarizer types based on dichroic molecules. These stomatopod polarizers may be found on various appendages, and on the cuticle covering dorsal or lateral sides of the animal. Since the efficiencies of all these polarizer types are somewhat sensitive to the change of illumination and viewing angle, how these animals compensate with different behaviors or fine structural features of the polarizer also varies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolarization
Subtitle of host publicationMeasurement, Analysis, and Remote Sensing VIII
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventPolarization: Measurement, Analysis, and Remote Sensing VIII - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: 2008 Mar 182008 Mar 19

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherPolarization: Measurement, Analysis, and Remote Sensing VIII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Fine structure and optical properties of biological polarizers in crustaceans and cephalopods'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this