Calculating the Structure of Isoxanthopterin Crystals, Efficient Reflectors in the Crustacean Eyes

Anna Hirsch, Benjamin Palmer, Vlad Brumfeld, David Aflalo, Amir Sagi, Iddo Pinkas, Dan Oron, Steve Weiner, Lia Addadi, Leslie Leiserowitz, Leeor Kronik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Shrimp, crayfish and lobsters possess a reflection superposition compound eye, which operates by reflective optics and is suited to vision in dim-light conditions. The reflector units in the eye are made of millions of crystals of isoxanthopterin, a previously unknown biocrystal. We report here the determination of the crystal structure of isoxanthopterin using first principles calculations based on dispersion-inclusive density functional theory. In a manner akin to the generation of the H-bonded layer and 3D arrangement of the biogenic photonic crystals of guanine, we constructed an H-bonded planar layer of isoxanthopterin molecules, followed by generation of various interlayer motifs, via monoclinic and orthorhombic symmetries. Geometry optimization yielded an isoxanthopterin crystal structure with orthorhombic Cmce symmetry, which gave an excellent fit to the experimental X-ray measurements. The resulting refractive index, calculated from the structure, is very high (n=2.0), explaining why this material functions as an efficient reflector.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAPS March Meeting 2018
StatePublished - 2018
EventAPS March Meeting 2018 -
Duration: 5 Mar 2018 → …


ConferenceAPS March Meeting 2018
Period5/03/18 → …


Dive into the research topics of 'Calculating the Structure of Isoxanthopterin Crystals, Efficient Reflectors in the Crustacean Eyes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this