Scientists recently discovered that the shiny bits embedded in the shell of the Diamond Weevil is more than just stylish bling- they're actually small diamonds grown for protection. Here's what they discovered, and what they plan to do with this discovery:
A new high-tech investigation reveals the diamonds are just that: chitin in a diamond-type arrangement that's optimized to throw off brilliant greens, yellows and oranges. What most people call diamonds are made of carbon, but other materials can take on the same crystal structure, called diamond cubic.It seems that no matter how high tech our society becomes, we can always learn a thing or two from the natural world.
“Materials scientists could look to these scales to inspire new materials, but we don’t yet know how they are made,” said biophysicist Bodo Wilts of the University of Groningen, co-author of a Dec. 21 study of the scales in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
“We’ve got some catching up to do,” Wilts said. “The nature-produced tiny structures are far beyond any human designs.”
The scales are a type of three-dimensional crystal, called a photonic crystal, which is much like an opal. Each kind of photonic crystal reflects a specific wavelength of light at a specific orientation. Other crystals lacking a regular 3-D structure, meanwhile, aren’t as brilliant or iridescent.
--via Wired --image via Bodo Wilts/Journal of the Royal Society Interface
The discovery is important nevertheless, but in other aspects.