Bright blues from below

Found living in kelp beds along the coasts of Norway, Iceland, the UK, Portugal and the Canary Islands, the blue-rayed limpet is distinguished by the vibrant blue parallel lines that run along its translucent shell. Recently, scientists at MIT and Harvard discovered two key structural features within the limpet’s shell that result in a blue so vibrant that it radiates even in murky waters.

Upon an initial scan of blue-rayed limpet shells, researchers found no surface difference between the blue-rayed limpet shells and those of any other mollusk. However, just 0.03mm below the surface, the scientists found a fascinating difference. Here, the regular plates of calcium carbonate found in mollusk shells were drastically different, featuring two distinct structural arrangements: a multilayered structure with regular spacing between calcium carbonate layers that takes on a zig-zag pattern and then below this, a layer of randomly dispersed, spherical particles.

It was found that the zig zag pattern acts as a filter, reflecting only blue light. The underlying particles absorb the remaining light that passes through the shell, making the blue even brighter and more radiant than it would otherwise be.

It is hoped the discovery could in the future serve as a guide to creating transparent display on windows and glass screens without need for an internal light source.

Via MIT News