The sea mouse and the photonic crystal

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Chemistry, 2001, 54 (4), pp. 241 - 244
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Sea mice (Aphroditidae, Polychaeta) are furry-looking marine worms that forage on, or in, the sea-bed. They are distinguished by an amazing iridescence along the lower sides of the body, associated with both hairs and spines known as chaetae. We show by electron microscopic and optical analysis that the iridescence of spines is caused by a highly regular, sub-micron scale structure resembling that being developed for photonic crystals, and that in fact the sea mouse exploits a partial photonic band gap to achieve its remarkable coloration effects.
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