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Ultraviolet patterns of flowers revealed in polymer replica - caused by surface architecture

: Schulte, Anna Julia; Mail, Matthias; Hahn, Lisa A.; Barthlott, Wilhelm

Fulltext urn:nbn:de:0011-n-5344668 (1.6 MByte PDF)
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Created on: 16.2.2019

Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology (2019), No.10, pp.459-466
ISSN: 2190-4286
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer INT ()
biomimetic; hierarchical structure; light absorption; light harvesting; light reflection

Angiosperms and their pollinators are adapted in a close co-evolution. For both the plants and pollinators, the functioning of the visual signaling system is highly relevant for survival. As the frequency range of visual perception in many insects extends into the ultraviolet (UV) region, UV-patterns of plants play an important role in the flower–pollinator interaction. It is well known that many flowers contain UV-absorbing pigments in their petal cells, which are localized in vacuoles. However, the contribution of the petal surface microarchitecture to UV-reflection remains uncertain. The correlation between the surface structure and its reflective properties is also relevant for biomimetic applications, for example, in the field of photovoltaics. Based on previous work, we selected three model species with distinct UV-patterns to explore the possible contribution of the surface architecture to the UV-signaling. Using a replication technique, we transferred the petal surface structure onto a transparent polymer. Upon illumination with UV-light, we observed structural-based patterns in the replicas that were surprisingly comparable to those of the original petals. For the first time, this experiment has shown that the parameters of the surface structure lead to an enhancement in the amount of absorbed UV-radiation. Spectrophotometric measurements revealed up to 50% less reflection in the UV-absorbing regions than in the UV-reflecting areas. A comparative characterization of the micromorphology of the UV-reflecting and UV-absorbing areas showed that, in principle, a hierarchical surface structure results in more absorption. Therefore, the results of our experiments demonstrate the structural-based amplification of UV-reflection and provide a starting point for the design of bioinspired antireflective and respectively strongly absorbing surfaces.