The structural and optical properties of naturally occurring and artificially produced photonic nanoarchitectures have been studied at the Nanostructures Department of EK MFA for almost 20 years using light and electron microscopy techniques and optical spectrophotometry . Biological nanoarchitectures composed of chitin and air can form ordered or quasi-ordered nanocomposites in which the typical distances of the structural elements are comparable with the visible light’s wavelength. Therefore, these photonic-crystal-type structures can influence the propagation of light over a certain wavelength range, which may result in a partial or complete photonic band gap. Many naturally occurring, vibrant colors (opals, beetles’ elytra, butterfly wings) are formed on this principle, and by studying them with materials science methods, similar structures can be designed, modeled, and fabricated. Furthermore, these biological and bioinspired photonic nanoarchitectures can be used in the potential applications as ready-made structures, such as optical vapor sensors, nanostructured photocatalysts, or surface-enhanced Raman scattering surfaces.
The economical production of the above-described structures would be particularly important for practical applications. As the quasi-ordered photonic nanoarchitectures in butterfly wing scales allow greater tolerance than artificial multilayer, and opal or inverse opal-type structures, a better understanding of these biological structures are required. The candidate is responsible for the design and implementation of optical spectrophotometry measurements on biological photonic nanoarchitectures and the analysis of their scanning and transmission electron microscopic images. By evaluating the measurement data, the structural features of the biological photonic nanoarchitectures can be revealed, which may be used for optical modeling and can lead to the design of advanced bioinspired artificial structures. These bioinspired nanoarchitectures can be compared to the biological structures, and both can be applied in optical vapor sensing or photocatalysis as nanostructured photonic surfaces.