Abstract

In this paper, we investigate the unusual color effect exhibited by the plumage of the heads of Cyanerpes cyaneus males, whose color turns from green to turquoise as the angle between the illumination and observation directions is increased. This singular color effect is characteristic of species that have quasi-ordered nanostructures of short-range order within the feather barbs. However, among species of the same family and even within feather patches of the same individual, one can find barbs with different characteristics, both macroscopic (curvature, shape, cross-sectional area) and in their internal microstructure. We apply the Korringa–Kohn–Rostoker method with the averaging technique to model the reflectance spectra for different angles of incidence and explain the dependence of the observed color with the incidence-collection angle. To investigate the influence of the disorder in the optical response of the spongy matrix, we apply the integral method for a two-dimensional cylinder system that simulates the distribution of air cavities within the $ \beta $-keratin medium. The experimental reflectance was interpreted as the result of multiple reflections in the internal interfaces generated by large air voids present within the spongy matrix. The application of rigorous methods to the study of natural photonic structures is of fundamental relevance for the design of efficient bioinspired artificial materials.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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