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Futuristic Computing Designs Inside Beetle Scales

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BYU physics major Lauren Richey

BYU physics major Lauren Richey discovered a natural photonic crystal inside the scales of a beetle. The structure could help scientists channel light in optical computers.

Credit: Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University (BYU) researchers are studying beetle scales to develop designs for future optical computers. BYU professor John Gardner and physics student Lauren Richey discovered that each scale of the Lamprocyphus augustus beetle contained a crystal with a honeycomb-like interior that had the same structural arrangement as carbon atoms in a diamond.

The researchers say the beetle scales could be used as a mold or template to make photonic crystals by adding semiconductor material such as titanium or silica. After the beetle material is removed using acid, a usable photonic crystal in visible light regions would remain.

"By using nature as templates, you can create things that you cannot make synthetically," Richey says.

View a video about Lauren Richey's research.

From Brigham Young University
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