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On the multifunctionality of butterfly scales: a scaling law for the ridges of cover scales

Köchling, Peter; Niebel, Andreas ORCID iD icon 1; Hurka, Kordula 1; Vorholt, Frederik 1; Hölscher, Hendrik ORCID iD icon 1
1 Institut für Mikrostrukturtechnik (IMT), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)


The bright colors found on the wings of some butterflies have been widely examined during recent decades because they are frequently caused by nano-structures and not by pigments or dyes. Sometimes it is puzzling to discover the physical origin of these structural colors because the color-causing nano-structures are integrated into a complex structure of scales that densely covers the butterfly wings. While the color of the wings serves purposes ranging from mating to camouflage and thermoregulation, the overall structure of the scales is commonly believed to assist with aerodynamics, self-cleaning, and easy release from spider webs. This multi-functionality of butterfly scales causes various constraints for their evolutionary design. Here, we present a structural analysis of the height and distance of the ridges in cover scales of butterfly species from different families. The subsequent analysis reveals a linear scaling law. The height of the ridges is always less than half of the distance between them. Finally, we discuss possible reasons for this geometrical scaling law.

Verlagsausgabe §
DOI: 10.5445/IR/1000122551
Veröffentlicht am 08.02.2021
DOI: 10.1039/D0FD00038H
Zitationen: 5
Web of Science
Zitationen: 5
Zitationen: 8
Cover der Publikation
Zugehörige Institution(en) am KIT Institut für Mikrostrukturtechnik (IMT)
Publikationstyp Zeitschriftenaufsatz
Publikationsdatum 01.10.2020
Sprache Englisch
Identifikator ISSN: 1359-6640, 1364-5498
KITopen-ID: 1000122551
HGF-Programm 43.22.01 (POF III, LK 01) Functionality by Design
Erschienen in Faraday discussions
Verlag Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
Band 223
Seiten 195-206
Vorab online veröffentlicht am 03.08.2020
Nachgewiesen in Dimensions
Web of Science
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