Butterfly wing

The micro-structure of a scale from a butterfly wing. Moth and butterfly wings use pigments to make some colours but physical structures, that affect the behaviour of light itself, to make others. Understanding how they do this lets us mimic nature and create similar features in manmade products.

Scientists are studying a wide variety of natural structures like wing surfaces so they can see how nature produces amazing effects like colour and water resistance.

Imaged using scanning electron microscopy by Dr Bronwen Cribb, University of Queensland.

Size: the holes are around 1 micrometre across, about the size of a bacterium.