Sea urchin shell lights the way for optical material

6:32pm, August 17, 2004

Someday, optical communications and high-speed computing might owe their success to a little ocean creature: the sea urchin. Materials scientists have fabricated a photonic crystal using a piece of the organism's shell as a template.

For years, researchers have been searching for ways to make photonic crystals with just the right optical properties. These three-dimensional structures, consisting of arrays of microscopic pores arranged in a lattice, reject some wavelengths of light while letting others pass through. This enables the crystals to manipulate light with exquisite precision (SN: 10/4/03, p. 218: Hot Crystal).

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