Non-polarizing broadband multilayer reflectors in fish

Thomas M Jordan, Julian C Partridge, Nicholas W Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


Dielectric multilayer reflectors that are non-polarizing are an important class of optical device and have numerous applications within optical fibres1, dielectric waveguides2 and light-emitting diodes3. Here, we report analyses of a biological non-polarizing optical mechanism found in the broadband guanine-cytoplasm ‘silver’ multilayer reflectors of three species of fish. Present in the fish stratum argenteum are two populations of birefringent guanine crystal, with their optical axes either parallel to the long axis of the crystal or perpendicular to the plane of the crystal, respectively. This arrangement neutralizes the polarization of reflection as a result of the different interfacial Brewster's angles of each population. The fish reflective mechanism is distinct from existing non-polarizing mirror designs4, 5, 6, 7 in that, importantly, there is no refractive index contrast between the low-index layers in the reflector and the external environment. This mechanism could be readily manufactured and exploited in synthetic optical devices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-763
Number of pages5
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number11
Early online date21 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2012


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