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Colors at the Nanoscale: Butterflies, Beetles and Opals

In this activity, museum visitors will be exposed to the term ‘Photonic Crystals’. They will see and explore some of the well-known photonic crystals in nature and will also be able observe one method that scientists use in trying to replicate this process.

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Intro to Nano video

"Nanotechnology: What's the Big Deal?" is a broad overview of the unique challenges and opportunities presented by nanoscale science, and dives into the super tiny scale of nanotechnology.

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Changing Colors

Changing Colors is an interactive exhibit that shows how some high-tech nanomaterials mimic natural phenomena. Super-small, light-reflecting structures—instead of pigments—on the wings of some butterflies create intense, iridescent colors. Nanoscientists have replicated this effect with layered, super-thin films. Watch the colors change on butterfly wings and thin-film slides as you move them beneath a light source, and discover how nanoscale structures can manipulate light and create color. Butterfly specimens deteriorate with heavy use, and may need to be replaced periodically.

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Butterfly Blues video

Mr. O talks about iridescence and Blue Morpho butterflies in another "O Wow" moment at the Children's Museum of Houston.

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Exploring Structures - Butterfly (NanoDays 2012)

"Exploring Structures - Butterfly" is a hands-on activity in which visitors investigate how some butterfly wings get their color. They learn that some wings get their color from the nanoscale structures on the wings instead of pigments.

"Explore Science - Zoom info Nano Morphing Butterfly" (2016) version designed for groups and community outreach.

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