Car Paint That Copies Butterflies

RESEARCHERS AT NISSAN MOTOR CO. LOOKED CLOSELY AT the wings of a South American butterfly and got the inspiration for a car paint that will never fade. The iridescent blue of the Morpho Sulkowskyi is produced by the way tiny structures in the wing scales refract, diffract, and scatter sunlight (photo, above). A Nissan group led by senior research engineer Hiroshi Tabata found tightly spaced grooves about 1.8 microns deep. Each groove is lined with even tinier horizontal ridges called lamalla, which are packed together like louvers about 0.15 micron apart--half the width of the lines on the most advanced computer chips (electron microscope image, left).

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