Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Mechanism behind nature's sparkles revealed

22 October 2014 Last updated at 01:15

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

Researchers from the University of Bristol have revealed "a universal explanation" for many of the dazzling coloured and silvery reflections in the natural world.

The team revealed that disordered layers of crystals that are responsible for silvery reflective scales of fish reflect light in the same way as coloured, iridescent insect wings and carapaces.

The research reveals just how shiny creatures have evolved nanoscale structures that exploit light.

The team also says that humans could copy the effect to produce, for example, hyper-reflective surfaces.


The very silvery scales of fish, like sardines and herring, are made up of microscopic layers of crystals.

"What's important is that the crystals have a range of different thicknesses," said Dr Tom Jordan, a member of the research team.

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