This scanning electron microscope image shows ridges on a Blue Morpho Butterfly wing scale. These ridges contain nanoscale structures that reflect light to create the Morpho's iridescent colors.
The overlapping scales on the wing of the Blue Morpho Butterfly contain nanoscale structures that reflect light to create iridescent colors. This scanning electron microscope image shows Morpho wing scales from above.
The iridescent colors of the Blue Morpho Butterfly's wings are produced by nanostructures that reflect different wavelengths of light.
The Blue Morpho is common in Central and South America and known for its bright blue wings. However, these iridescent colors are created not by pigments in the wing tissues but instead by the way light interacts with nanometer-sized structures on the Morpho's wing scales. This effect is being studied as a model in the development of new fabrics, dye-free paints, and anti-counterfeit technologies for currency.
The tree-like structures in this scanning electron microscope image of a cross section of a butterfly wing are on the undersides of the Morpho's wing scale ridges. These microribs reflect light to create iridescent colors.
This series of museum labels are designed for general use in your museum or institution to highlight existing connections to nanoscale science, engineering, or technology. NISE Net partners are already coming up with creative ways to use these labels to showcase nano. For example, you can make a scavenger hunt or special tour to encourage visitors to find all the connections! Additional templates (.doc and .indd) are also provided so that you can create your own signage and content.
Mr. O talks about iridescence and Blue Morpho butterflies in another "O Wow" moment at the Children's Museum of Houston.
These 'Do It Yourself' Nano activities and experiments allow families to experience and learn about nanoscale science, engineering, and technology at home or on the go! They are are designed to be done in the comfort of your own home. Each activity includes lists of widely available, inexpensive materials, step-by-step instructions, and detailed explanations. Go ahead, give 'em a try!
"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.
Visitors will engage in activities showing various natural phenomena that scientists and engineers have emulated to address human problems. Visitors view peacock feathers at different angles to see iridescence, apply drops of water to observe the color changes, and look at other examples of iridescence in nature, such as a blue Morpho butterfly, tropical beetle wings, and abalone shells. Visitors also explore the Lotus Effect by applying drops of water onto Lotusan paint and stain resistant fabrics, two technologies that mimic the Lotus effect.