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Butterfly Photonic Crystals and Beyond: Minimal Surfaces and Periodic Nets

Gerd Schröder-Turk

Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

3:30 pm Wednesday, 14 March 2012, EN313 Lecture Theatre (EN Building), Hawthorn.

Triply-periodic minimal surfaces and networks are found commonly as the self-assembled spatial structure of several soft-matter systems, including lipids, copolymers, mesoporous silicates and biological membranes. One of the most recent examples is the so-called Gyroid structure found in the porous chitin structure in wing scales of green butterflies, with a structure length scale of about 300nm, where it is believed to act as a photonic crystal and contribute to the coloration of the butterfly. This Gyroid structure is chiral and hence allows a discriminating response to circularly polarised light. In this talk, I will review the Gyroid structure and other minimal surfaces, and discuss several chiral generalisations of the Gyroid structure, including multiple interwoven networks and branched minimal surface geometries. These structures may represent inspiring designs for photonic crystals and meta-materials.

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