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Proceedings Paper

Orb web spider silks: how their optics affects potential visibility
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Paper Abstract

Certain spider silks, as used in aerial orb webs, are high quality optical micro-fibers with widths of 1 to a few microns and a refractive index of ~1.55. It has been reported that such silks have reduced relative reflectance in the ultra-violet and violet, as compared to the rest of the visible light spectrum with implications for their visibility to insect vision. Relative reflectance as a function of wavelength gives no insight into the fraction of the intensity of light that falls on a spider silk that will be backscattered/reflected into a solid angle such that it might result in it being visible to an oncoming insect, for example. We will report comparative results from measurements of the radial silks of four orb web weaving spider species. These species evolved at different times and/or to exploit different biological habits. One species is nocturnal. Combining the results of photoreflectance measurements and optical surface profiling studies shows how the geometry of the spider silks may have evolved to reduce the scattered/reflected light from the radial silk of certain species. The properties of certain spider silks as an optical material with low UV absorption also emerge from this study.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 December 2019
PDF: 2 pages
Proc. SPIE 11200, AOS Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology (ACOFT) and Australian Conference on Optics, Lasers, and Spectroscopy (ACOLS) 2019, 112000R (30 December 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2541128
Show Author Affiliations
Deb M. Kane, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)
Benjamin Snowdon, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)
Sean J. Blamires, Univ. of New South Wales (Australia)
Douglas J. Little, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11200:
AOS Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology (ACOFT) and Australian Conference on Optics, Lasers, and Spectroscopy (ACOLS) 2019
Arnan Mitchell; Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop, Editor(s)

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