The students in my Nuclear Science program this summer had the unexpected treat of being part of a new discovery. I promised to post updates (future articles, press, etc…) here on my website.
My father-in-law Dr. Frederik Nijhout is a Developmental Physiologist at Duke. He was nice enough to agree to help my Nuclear Science class spend some time on one of Duke’s Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM). (Here is an interview with Fred on NPR) Prior to our visit I received an email from Dr. Nijhout, here is an excerpt:
There is a nanotube substance called Vantablack, that comes close to being true pure black.
Turns out there is a butterfly that has black wings that are about as close to pure black as anyone knows (within 0.01% of Vantablack). We discovered this yesterday.
We are interested in finding out how they do it., Must be some nano-structure in the wing.
The only way to find out is by SEM, which we are planning for next week. Do you think your students might be interested in this exploration? Its is not radioactivity but it is total absorption of visible electromagnetic radiation.
I could prepare a specimen for their SEM field trip, and they’d be involved in something near to real discovery?
The butterfly in question is Rajah Brooke’s birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana) below are some pics of the butterfly and some images from the SEM. I will update this page with new information, publications, etc…