A team of researchers with Swinburne University of Technology in Australia has found a way to use two-beam super-resolution lithography to create 3D photonic "gyroid" nanostructures—similar to those found in butterfly wings. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team describes their technique and some applications to which it might be applied.
Scientists have known for some time that butterfly wings have "gyroid" nanostructures in them (arranged in grid patterns), that serve the butterflies by manipulating light in useful ways.
Using optical two-beam lithography with improved resolution and enhanced mechanical strength, we demonstrate the replication of gyroid photonic nanostructures found in the butterfly Callophrys rubi. These artificial structures are shown to have size, controllability, and uniformity that are superior to those of their biological counterparts. In particular, the elastic Young’s modulus of fabricated nanowires is enhanced by up to 20%. As such, the circular dichroism enabled by the gyroid nanostructures can operate in the near-ultraviolet wavelength region, shorter than that supported by the natural butterfly wings of C. rubi. This fabrication technique provides a unique tool for extracting three-dimensional photonic designs from nature and will aid the investigation of biomimetic nanostructures.