Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Technology

Shrimp Eyes Polarize Light Just Like a DVD Player, Only Better

80beatsBy Brett IsraelOctober 27, 2009 1:23 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Circular polarized light is one of two forms of polarized light, or light waves that travel in a specific plane. The specialized CPL detecting cells in shrimp eye are similar to the optical detectors found in DVD players; each can convert polarized light into other forms so it can be stored or processed. However, shrimp eyes can do this with all colors of circular polarized light across the spectrum, according to the study in Nature Photonics. The detectors in DVD and CD players can only recognize circular polarized light in a few colors. The research team thinks that in the future, optics devices might be beefed up by chemically engineered crystals that could mimic the light polarizing cells of the mantis shrimp eye.Mantis shrimp eyes are composed of hundreds of compartments, each with a photoreceptor that can

possess the animal kingdom’s most complicated eyes, capable of distinguishing between 100,000 colors — 10 times as many as humans — and seeing circular polarized light, or CPL, which can’t be detected by any other creature [Wired.com].

mantis-shrimp.jpg

A new discovery about how mantis shrimp process light could give rise to new and more powerful consumer electronics, according to a new study. Mantis shrimp

detect visible light and turn it into a signal the brain can read. But ... mantis shrimp also have a special group of photoreceptors, known as R8 cells, which can also detect UV and polarized light [ABC News]. The mantis shrimp is one of the few animals

that reflects circular polarized light off its skin; since other shrimp can see that reflected light, it serves a communication function. Says lead researcher Justin Marshall:

"They're talking to each other with a secret light channel" [ABC News].

Related Content: 80beats: Tiny Structures in Beetle’s Shell Twist Light, Giving It a Green Sheen 80beats: Chameleonic Synthetic Opal Could Lead to Full-Color Electronic Paper 80beats: Super-Strong Ceramic Mimics Seashells’ Tough Mother-of-Pearl Coating

Image: flickr / CybersamX

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In