Bioinspired Photonics: Optical Structures and Systems Inspired by Nature, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Bioinspired Photonics

Optical Structures and Systems Inspired by Nature, 1st Edition

By Viktoria Greanya

CRC Press

416 pages | 463 Color Illus.

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pub: 2015-06-08
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Harness the Wonders of the Natural World

As our in-depth knowledge of biological systems increases, the number of devices and applications built from these principles is rapidly growing. Bioinspired Photonics: Optical Structures and Systems Inspired by Nature provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the captivating and diverse photonic systems seen in nature and explores how we take inspiration from them to create new photonic materials and devices.

See How Photonic Systems in Nature Work

The book presents important examples of how combining biological inspiration with state-of-the-art nanoscience is resulting in the emergence of a field focused on developing real improvements in materials and devices. The author walks readers through examples taken from nature, delves into their characterization and performance, and describes the unique features of their performance. She interweaves this material with discussions on fabricating synthetic versions of the systems as well as specific aspects of the biological examples that researchers are leveraging in their own work.

Replicate and Take Inspiration from These Systems for Fabrication and Application

Suitable for a multidisciplinary audience of scientists, technologists, students, and lay people, this book covers a wide range of topics encompassed by bioinspired photonics in an easy-to-follow way. Newcomers to the field will acquire the minimum background necessary to begin exploring this fascinating subject while experts will discover state-of-the-art approaches to biomimetic and bioinspired photonic systems.


"… clearly well organized, well written, and insightful. It will be a wonderful source of inspiration of future bioinspired photonics."

—Luke P. Lee, Arnold and Barbara Silverman Distinguished Professor, University of California, Berkeley

"With examples drawn from adaptive color actuation, vision systems, functional biomaterials, sensors, and energy conversion, this book brilliantly delivers fascinating multidisciplinary applications of photonic materials, structures, devices, and systems inspired by Nature."

—R.A. Potyrailo, Principal Scientist, GE Global Research, Niskayuna, New York

"… a thorough and engaging tour of an important emerging field that melds biology, engineering, and physics. Greanya conveys the excitement of new discoveries both in how natural systems harness the power of light, and the applications that aim to mimic it."

—Stephanie E. Palmer, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago

Table of Contents

Introduction to Bioinspired Photonic Systems

Biological and Bioinspired Photonics


Historical Perspective and the Advent of Microscopy

Tools of the Trade

Bioinspired Photonics in the Twenty-First Century and the Challenge of Multidisciplinary Science

Structural Color I: Low-Dimensional Structures

Next Generation Applications Inspired by Ancient Structures

Sparkly, Vibrant, Bright, and Shiny—Light and Biology in Action

Describing Biological Photonic Structures

One-Dimensional Layered Structures

Two-Dimensional Structures

Structural Color II: Complex Structures

Quasi Two-/Three-Dimensional Structures

Three-Dimensional Structures

Nanostructures in Black and White

Dynamic, Adaptive Color

Color Changing Organisms as Inspiration

The Expanding Display Industry

Nature’s "Unconventional" Display Technologies


Architectures of Dynamic Biological Photonics


Chromatophore-Inspired Structures

Dynamic Structural Color: Iridophores and Leucophores

Actuating Structural Color

Vision Systems

Inspiring Vision

Biological Eyes: The Front-End Optics

Photoreceptors: The Imager’s Back End

Spectral Sensitivities 188

Secondary Structures


Biomaterials for Photonics





Luciferins and GFP—Bioluminescence and Fluorescence




Infrared Sensing

Gas and Vapor Sensors

Energy from Light

Insatiable Appetite for Power and Energy

Harvesting Solar Power



Antireflective Structures

Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

Solar Fuels and Artificial Photosynthesis

Hybrid Systems


The Future of Bioinspired Photonics: Challenges and Opportunities

Inspiration from Natural Systems for Conventional and Unconventional Applications

Fabrication Is Still a Challenge

Biological Fabrication

STEM Education and Outreach

Importance of Multidisciplinary and Basic Research


References appear at the end of each chapter.

About the Author

Viktoria Greanya, PhD, is the chief of basic research in the Chemical and Biological Technologies Department at the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency and a research associate professor at George Mason University. She has over a decade of experience in research and development in nanoscience (including nanotherapeutics, bioinspired photonic systems, nanostructured functional materials, and flexible photonic and electronic systems) as well as high-power and vacuum electronics, heterogeneous integration, and liquid crystals. She earned a PhD in condensed matter physics from Michigan State University.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Chemical & Biochemical