A simple and effective approach towards biomimetic replication of photonic structures from butterfly wings
A general sonochemical process is reported for the replication of photonic structures from Morpho butterfly wings in several hours. By selecting appropriate precursors, we can achieve exact replications of photonic structures in a variety of transparent metal oxides, such as titania, tin oxide and silica. The exact replications at the micro- and nanoscales were characterized by a combination of FE-SEM, TEM, EDX and Raman measurements. The optical properties of the replicas were investigated by using reflectance spectroscopy, and it was found that the interesting chromaticity of the reflected light could be adjusted simply by tuning the replica materials. An ultrasensitive SnO2-based chemical sensor was prepared from the SnO2 replica. The sensor has a sensitivity of 35.3–50 ppm ethanol at 300 °C, accompanied by a rapid response and recovery (around 8–15 s), owing to its large surface area and photonic structure. Thus, this process could be developed to produce photonic structural ceramics which could be used in many passive and active infrared devices, especially high performance optical components and sensors.