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Proceedings Paper

Light extraction from the bioluminescent organs of fireflies
Author(s): Annick Bay; Jean Pol Vigneron
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Paper Abstract

A variety of animals emit light, either for intraspecific signalling, for predator repulsion or for using their own vision system in total darkness. As the design of light-emitting diodes has revealed, light extraction from a high refractive index medium is difficult because transmission is limited by total internal reflection. Surface roughness is needed to attempt avoiding this limitation. The optical structure of the bioluminescent organs of fireflies is investigated and the possible role of inhomogeneities for improving the efficiency of the radiative emission is considered. This analysis shows that the light extraction in this complex structure is essentially doubled, compared to the extraction in a reference system consisting of an homogeneous chitinous medium terminated by a flat surface. The inequal fitting of the scales and the lowering of the average refractive index in the photocytes accounts for most of the improvement.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 August 2009
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 7401, Biomimetics and Bioinspiration, 740108 (21 August 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.825473
Show Author Affiliations
Annick Bay, Univ. of Namur (Belgium)
Jean Pol Vigneron, Univ. of Namur (Belgium)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7401:
Biomimetics and Bioinspiration
Raul J. Martin-Palma; Akhlesh Lakhtakia, Editor(s)

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