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Research Zernike (ZIAM) News

Pascal Freyer interviewed by NRC

08 January 2021

PhD student Pascal Freyer was interviewed by Gemma Venhuizen of NRC on his PhD research. Freyer is about to defend his thesis "The colouration of bird feathers explained by effective-medium multilayer modelling" on January 19th 2021. Freyer summarizes his thesis - guided by Prof. Petra Rudolf and Prof. Doekele Stavenga - as follows: Many birds have fascinating colours generated by specialized nanoscopic structures inside their feathers (see also: academy.allaboutbirds.org/how-birds-make-colorful-feathers/). The special optical properties of these structures, such as those found in the feathers of peacocks, ducks, starlings and bird of paradise, are as yet not fully understood. These structures, which are ordered in the range of 100-200 nanometres, are composed of keratin (like that found in hair), melanin and sometimes also air. They are called “photonic crystals” because they can manipulate light in special ways through the precise tuning of these nanometer-sized and often crystal-like structures. My thesis presents an in-depth study of the relationship between the structures and colours of a number of bird species, thus contributing to a better understanding of the relationship between the nanoscopic structures and their spectral properties.

The NRC interview is available online (in Dutch) https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2021/01/08/een-simpel-model-voor-pauwenpracht-a4026810

Freyer was also visited by oogTV to talk about his research.

Last modified:15 January 2021 08.49 a.m.

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