Polarized iridescence of the multilayered elytra of the Japanese jewel beetle, Chrysochroa fulgidissima

Doekele G. Stavenga, Bodo D. Wilts, Hein L. Leertouwer, Takahiko Hariyama

Abstract

The elytra of the Japanese jewel beetle Chrysochroa fulgidissima are metallic green with purple stripes. Scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy demonstrated that the elytral surface is approximately flat. The accordingly specular green and purple areas have, with normal illumination, 100–150 nm broad reflectance bands, peaking at about 530 and 700 nm. The bands shift progressively towards shorter wavelengths with increasing oblique illumination, and the reflection then becomes highly polarized. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that the epicuticle of the green and purple areas consists of stacks of 16 and 12 layers, respectively. Assuming gradient refractive index values of the layers between 1.6 and 1.7 and applying the classical multilayer theory allowed modelling of the measured polarization- and angle-dependent reflectance spectra. The extreme polarized iridescence exhibited by the elytra of the jewel beetle may have a function in intraspecific recognition.

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