Photo: ‘Blue Morph butterfly’ by NH53


Diffractive scales produce any colour

The beautiful and striking colours of the blue morpho – Morpho menelausbutterfly wings are created not by pigments, but rather by refraction, or thin-film interference. The really bright reflective colours however are produced by diffraction, where light is broken up into its constituent colours after being diffracted by prismatic ridges on the surface of the scales, or on a lattice of microscopic bubbles within them. These diffractive scales exhibit a high degree of iridescence – so the colours change in hue and intensity as light strikes the wings of a butterfly from different angles. Its diffractive scales have a high level of iridescence, able to produce any colour needed in printed ink.

Link to case