The beaks of emperor penguins reflect UV light via a multilayer reflector photonic microstructure.
This is the first time that the nature of the UV-reflecting microstructures has been characterized in beak tissue of any bird. The ultrastructure of the photonic microstructures found in the present study differs radically from that of those previously described in either bird feathers or skin. The regular multilayer membrane arrays found in the beak horn microstructures closely approximate to two dimensional crystal lattices, strongly suggesting that UV reflectance here is produced by interference between incident light and that reflected from successive folds in these microstructures (Prum & Torres 2003). (Dresp 2005:312)
That knowladge can be applied in UV light reflectors on windows to reduce bird kill; capture and transfer of UV light for photo voltaic applications; storage of information on UV sensitive array, etc.
Posted by Berta Pérez Gumà