DVD makers copy mantis shrimp eye design
We have already reported on the amazing mantis shrimp,1 highlighting its powerful punch due to a catapult mechanism—it can accelerate up to 10,600 g (humans pass out at 10g). Its superb colour vision system includes 12 primary colour receptors—four times as many as humans have. Australian satellite designers wanted to design satellite cameras based on that, making the pithy comment, “Instead of throwing a shrimp on the barbie, I want to put a prawn into space.”
A 2009 update2 pointed out that the mantis shrimp also has remarkable light-sensitive cells that rotate the plane of polarization3 in light. Manmade systems can do this, but work well only in one colour; the mantis shrimp worked almost perfectly throughout the visible spectrum and even beyond: near ultra-violet to infra-red.
Transferring the same multi-colour ability into a DVD player could enable it to handle far more information.
“The mechanism we have found in this eye is unknown to human synthetic devices. It works much, much better than any attempts that we’ve made to construct a device,” said University of Bristol researcher Nicholas Roberts.4 He and his colleagues observed that the mantis shrimp had cell membranes rolled into tiny tubes (nanorods).
Now some engineers from National Taipei University of Technology, Taiwan, have made waveplates based on the mantis shrimp eye lenses. Waveplates change polarization, and these new ones could highly improve DVD definition and storage capacity. A report explains:
“The research team’s waveplate is made of two layers of nanorods that are structurally similar to those in the eye of the peacock mantis shrimp.”5
These layers (of tantalum pentoxide) are deposited by different methods. Both produce parallel layers of nanorods, but one is upright. Each stage of the waveplate comprises a sandwich of the non-upright layer between two upright layers. Then these sandwiches are stacked to make the required waveplate.
Furthermore, this ingenious technique uses relatively inexpensive methods within the thin-film industry.
This is only one in a long list in the field of biomimetics (or biomimicry)—human designers copying the ingenious designs of the Master Designer, i.e. the One who made the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them (Exodus 20:11).6,7
References and notes
- Sarfati, J., Shrimpy Superboxer, Creation 30(2):12–13, 2008; creation.com/shrimpy-superboxer. Return to text.
- See the box section titled ‘Super sight’ in Ref. 1. Return to text.
- Polarized light comprises waves that vibrate only in one plane, instead of in random directions as in ordinary light. Polaroid sunglasses produce polarized light by absorbing light that doesn’t vibrate in a given plane, which is why they appear dark. Reflected ‘glare’ is also quite polarized, and sunglasses are designed to block out the polarization direction of glare. Return to text.
- ‘Sexy’ shrimp eyes help DVD technology, www.news.com.au, 26 October 2009. Return to text.
- Stress relief: Mantis shrimp eye could improve high-definition CDs, DVDs, www.asminternational.org, 29 June 2011. Return to text.
- Expert engineer eschews evolutionary design : Philip Bell interviews creationist and Professor of Engineering Design, Stuart Burgess, Creation 32(1):35–37, 2009; creation.com/burgess; also the many other examples in creation.com/biomimetics. Return to text.
- Hat tip to Hans Van Den Berg (New Zealand) for alerting me to this. Return to text.