Anderson light localization in biological nanostructures of native silk

Seung Ho Choi, Seong Wan Kim, Zahyun Ku, Michelle A. Visbal-Onufrak, Seong Ryul Kim, Kwang Ho Choi, Hakseok Ko, Wonshik Choi, Augustine M. Urbas, Tae Won Goo, Young L. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Light in biological media is known as freely diffusing because interference is negligible. Here, we show Anderson light localization in quasi-two-dimensional protein nanostructures produced by silkworms (Bombyx mori). For transmission channels in native silk, the light flux is governed by a few localized modes. Relative spatial fluctuations in transmission quantities are proximal to the Anderson regime. The sizes of passive cavities (smaller than a single fibre) and the statistics of modes (decomposed from excitation at the gain-loss equilibrium) differentiate silk from other diffusive structures sharing microscopic morphological similarity. Because the strong reflectivity from Anderson localization is combined with the high emissivity of the biomolecules in infra-red radiation, silk radiates heat more than it absorbs for passive cooling. This collective evidence explains how a silkworm designs a nanoarchitectured optical window of resonant tunnelling in the physically closed structures, while suppressing most of transmission in the visible spectrum and emitting thermal radiation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number452
JournalNature communications
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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