Open Access Nano Express

Hyperspectral optical imaging of two different species of lepidoptera

José Manuel Medina1*, Sérgio Miguel Cardoso Nascimento1 and Pete Vukusic2

Author Affiliations

1 Centre of Physics, University of Minho, Campus de Gualtar, Braga, 4710-057, Portugal

2 School of Physics, University of Exeter, Stocker Road, Exeter, EX4 4QL, UK

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:369  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-369

Published: 4 May 2011

Abstract

In this article, we report a hyperspectral optical imaging application for measurement of the reflectance spectra of photonic structures that produce structural colors with high spatial resolution. The measurement of the spectral reflectance function is exemplified in the butterfly wings of two different species of Lepidoptera: the blue iridescence reflected by the nymphalid Morpho didius and the green iridescence of the papilionid Papilio palinurus. Color coordinates from reflectance spectra were calculated taking into account human spectral sensitivity. For each butterfly wing, the observed color is described by a characteristic color map in the chromaticity diagram and spreads over a limited volume in the color space. The results suggest that variability in the reflectance spectra is correlated with different random arrangements in the spatial distribution of the scales that cover the wing membranes. Hyperspectral optical imaging opens new ways for the non-invasive study and classification of different forms of irregularity in structural colors.