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Proceedings Paper

Iridescence color of shells
Author(s): Yan Liu
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Paper Abstract

Some shells from both salt water and fresh water show the phenomenon of iridescence color. Pearls and mother-of-pearls also display this phenomenon. In the past, the cause of the iridescence color was attributed to interference. A scanning electron microscope (SEM) was used to study the surface structure of the shell of the mollusk Pinctada Margaritifera. There is a groove structure of reflection grating on the surface area in where the iridescence color appears. An optic experiment with a laser obtained a diffraction pattern produced by the reflection grating structure of the shell. The study led to a conclusion that the iridescence color of the shell is caused by diffraction. A SEM image of the shells of an abalone Haliotis Rufescens (red abalone) showed a statistically regularly arranged tile structure that serves as a two-dimensional grating. This grating structure causes the iridescence color of the shell of red abalone. The dominant color of the iridescence of shells is caused by the uneven grating efficiency in the visible wavelength range when a shell functions as a reflection grating. The wavelength of the dominant color should be at or near the wavelength of the maximum efficiency of the grating.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 June 2002
PDF: 4 pages
Proc. SPIE 4421, 9th Congress of the International Colour Association, (6 June 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.464545
Show Author Affiliations
Yan Liu, Liu Research Labs. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4421:
9th Congress of the International Colour Association
Robert Chung; Allan Rodrigues, Editor(s)

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