A shrimp with a sharp eye is giving researchers insight into how to improve CD, DVD, blu-ray, and holographic technology. Peacock mantis shrimp are one of only a few animal species that can see circularly polarized light—like that used to create 3-D movies. In fact, some researchers believe the mantis shrimp’s eyes are better over the entire visual spectrum than any existing man-made waveplates.
A waveplate is a transparent slab that can alter the polarization of light because it is birefringent—or exhibits double refraction. The mineral calcite, which is sometimes used as a waveplate, is birefringent.
“We want to change the polarization without affecting the amount of light that gets through,” says Akhlesh Lakhtakia, professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State. “We want both transmittance and changing polarization to occur quite independent of frequency. In other words, we do not want to affect the color.”
Full story at Futurity.