A tunable reflector enabling crustaceans to see but not be seen

Keshet Shavit, Avital Wagner, Lukas Schertel, Viviana Farstey, Derya Akkaynak, Gan Zhang, Alexander Upcher, Amir Sagi, Venkata Jayasurya Yallapragada, Johannes Haataja, Benjamin A. Palmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Many oceanic prey animals use transparent bodies to avoid detection. However, conspicuous eye pigments, required for vision, compromise the organisms' ability to remain unseen. We report the discovery of a reflector overlying the eye pigments in larval decapod crustaceans and show how it is tuned to render the organisms inconspicuous against the background. The ultracompact reflector is constructed from a photonic glass of crystalline isoxanthopterin nanospheres. The nanospheres' size and ordering are modulated to tune the reflectance from deep blue to yellow, enabling concealment in different habitats. The reflector may also function to enhance the acuity or sensitivity of the minute eyes by acting as an optical screen between photoreceptors. This multifunctional reflector offers inspiration for constructing tunable artificial photonic materials from biocompatible organic molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-700
Number of pages6
Issue number6633
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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