4th Annual Edward Delaval Lecture in Physics

A Eurasian Jay (top) with one of its striped feathers (bottom).

How the jay bird got its stripes:
what nanotechnology and photonics can learn from biology

a public lecture by

Professor Richard Jones FRS

Department of Physics and Astronomy,
University of Sheffield

Wednesday 12 February 2020

6 pm – 7:20 pm

Newton Lecture Theatre INB0114 in the Isaac Newton building, University of Lincoln

Book a place

The striking appearance of the Eurasian Jay owes much to its beautiful striped feathers.  What’s interesting about these is that the colours of the feathers are not produced by a pigment – instead they are a result of an optical interference effect arising from the sub-micron structure created in the cells that form the feather. We’ve studied this structure – and analogous structures from beetle scales – using synchrotron x-ray radiation, and we find that these structures are characteristic of a process of controlled phase separation.  This is one example of the way biological systems create order and structure out of the random, Brownian environment of the cell; the question we now need to answer is to what extent can we learn from these very different design principles when we make synthetic systems?

Richard Jones is a Professor of Physics at the University of Sheffield.  His first degree and PhD in Physics both come from Cambridge University, and following postdoctoral work at Cornell University, U.S.A., he was a lecturer at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory.  In 1998 he moved to the University of Sheffield.  He is an experimental physicist who specialises in elucidating the nanoscale structure and properties of polymers and biological macromolecules at interfaces.  In 2006 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in 2009 he won the Tabor Medal of the UK’s Institute of Physics for his contributions to nanoscience.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. AJ Thomlinson says:

    Very informative lecture. Brought two teens along and it was pitched just right to keep them engaged.The links to industrial applications were illuminating for young people thinking about future areas of study.
    Thank you.


  2. Jean Matson says:

    An excellent sortie into the colours of nature & how nanotechnology is expanding our knowledge in this area.


  3. David Crees says:

    Excellent lecture.


  4. David Royle says:

    Very good talk , and very interesting how nature can inspire creativity in nanotechnology.


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