Some natural structures show three-dimensional morphologies on the micro- and nano- scale, characterized by levels of symmetry and complexity well far beyond those fabricated by best technologies available. This is the case of diatoms, unicellular microalgae, whose protoplasm is enclosed in a nanoporous microshell, made of hydrogenated amorphous silica, called frustule. We have studied the optical properties of Arachnoidiscus sp. single valves both in visible and ultraviolet range. We found photonic effects due to diffraction by ordered pattern of pores and slits, accordingly to an elaborated theoretical model. For the first time, we experimentally revealed spatial separation of focused light in different spots, which could be the basis of a micro-bio-spectrometer. Characterization of such intricate structures can be of great inspiration for photonic devices of next generation.
Public Library of Science
30 Jul 2014
Volume: 9 Issue: 7 Pages: e103750