Géza I. Márk(1), Zofia Vértesy(1), Krisztián Kertész(1), Zsolt Bálint(2), and László P. Biró(1)
(1): Research Institute for Technical Physics and Materials Science, H-1525 Budapest, P.O.Box 49, Hungary
(2): Hungarian Natural History Museum, H-1088 Budapest, Baross utca 13, Hungary
Photonic nanostructures, i.e. materials structured on the submicron scale, exhibit a broad range of optical phenomena: coloration, iridescence, photonic band gap, polarization, diffraction, total reflection, fluorescence, etc. These materials have many existing and potential applications in technology, e.g. in communication, signal processing, computing, and as ecological freindly colorants. In order to construct a macroscopic device from photonic nanostructures, it is necessary to build a nanoarchitecture from the nanostructures. One simple and theoretically much studied example is the photonic crystal, a photonic nanoarchitecture with long range order. It remains however a challenging technological task to realize macroscopic photonic crystals. But biological evolution created photonic nanoarchitectures in living organisms more than 500 Million years ago, these give the so called structural (not pigmentary) colors of living organisms. Most spectacular examples are in butterflies and beetles, but structural colors are also present on birds, mammals, and even in plants. Because of their very biological origin these photonic nanoarchitectures are never perfect, they always contain more or less randomness. As it was shown by our extensive experimental and theoretical examination of such structures, biological nanoarchitectures are structured on several orders of magnitude and show a huge variety of optical phenomena. Hence the study of biological nanoarchitectures is n important source of ideas for technological applications, leading to the development of biomimetical and bioinspired materials.