Latin America

Butterfly wings: Colorful and counterfeit-proof

By Agnes Rivera

A sub species of a South American insect inspire technology.

Butterfly wings: Colorful and counterfeit-proof

(Photo: WIkimedia/Didier Descouens)

Money can’t buy love, but apparently the two have more in common thanks to U.S. researchers.

The technique used by a species of butterfly to attract mates is helping researchers develop a new solution to the issue of counterfeiters and thieves.

Pierella luna males, a subspecies of a Latin American butterfly, put on a sort of light show whereby the colors on their wings appear to change color when seen from different angles. The microstructure of its winds- “made up of tiny scales curled slightly upward at the end to diffract light”(Discovery)- inspired Harvard University researchers to apply something similar when printing money.

Researchers have succeeded in creating an artificial photonic material that can be applied to bills as well as other documents that run risk of being duplicated or falsified, such as passports. Although it was no easy task to mimic the advanced optical illusion of the _Pierella luna_’s wings, it only proves how successful the material can be in conterfeit-proofing banknotes.

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