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Beetle shell inspires brilliant white paper
Date:6/10/2009

d and legs showed them to be covered in long flat scales, which have highly random internal 3D structures. These irregular internal forms are the key to its uniquely effective light scattering. By balancing the size of the structures with the spacing between them, they scatter white light extremely efficiently.

The key to producing the optimal white coating for paper is in the design of the constituent mineral particles. "White paper coatings must provide the right balance between the size, number density and separation of the scattering units in the coating as found in the beetle's scales", said Dr Benny Hallam, Application Support Manager of Imerys Pigments for Paper Europe Technology Group. Some of the beetle's design protocols could be utilised already with tailor-made mineral designs such as Imerys' CarboFlexTM range. The company is now planning to assess the feasibility of taking these design protocols to the next level in order to produce beetle-inspired ultra-white coatings on a large scale.

Meanwhile, the University of Exeter team, led by Professor Pete Vukusic, is investigating the massive diversity in the way in which whiteness is produced across the animal and plant world, far beyond just that of the Cyphochilus beetle. They have so far identified and investigated a series of natural systems that reveal distinctly different ways of producing effective ultra-whiteness. These are inspiring additional surface appearance and functional applications in a range of technologies and industries.

Benny Hallam of Imerys Minerals Ltd. continued: "It is interesting to consider that clues found in a small, obscure beetle could find application in large-scale industry. Taking this concept forward is an interesting challenge, but we have good ideas about our next steps and, if successful, feel that such developments might have profound implications for future commercial white coatings."

Professor Pete Vukusic of the University of E
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Contact: Sarah Hoyle
s.hoyle@exeter.ac.uk
44-013-922-62062
University of Exeter
Source:Eurekalert  

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