Morpho butterfly wing
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‘Transparent materials’ secret to butterfly colours

New research published by the Natural History Museum has shown that it is possible to culture cells from butterfly wings to produce iridescent colours in the laboratory.

Speaking on the Today programme, Professor Andrew Parker, who led the research, explained that butterflies produce their wing colours using "completely transparent materials that reflects and refracts light in certain ways."

He added that, in most cases, "there is no dye or pigment at all, so it's totally transparent". They have "tiny structures which interact with light waves to produce these really bright reflections."

"It's something we would now like to copy in industry."

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday 4 October.

  • 04 Oct 2014