2010 Volume 51 Issue 2 Pages 202-208
The hindwings of the male Sasakia charonda charonda butterflies comprise iridescent purple-blue areas, iridescent white-pearl areas, yellow spots and red spots as well as brown background. We have examined the microstructure of their scales by scanning electron microscopy, for applying their photonic crystal structures to fine light manipulators such as reflection elements in laser diodes. The scales in the yellow spots, red spots and brown background have almost the same structure, which is an optical diffraction grating made of ridges with two cuticle layers. Their difference comes from the contained pigments. The scales in the iridescent purple-blue and white-pearl are also the same in structure. They have seven tilted cuticle layers lapped on the ridges, which also constitute a grating. The widths of the ridge and groove in the grating are different between scales of the two kinds. It is shown that the vivid iridescence is mainly attributed to multiple interferences caused between rays reflected from the seven cuticle layers with air gaps.