Natural Example of Disordered Hyperuniformity DiscoveredCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: February 26, 2014 10:03AM
For at least some people, we may never look at chickens the same way again, as it turns out their eyes are very different from our own and many other animals. Within eyes, human and avian, are a cells called cones that are sensitive to different colors of light, and layout of the cones impacts the creature's vision. Researchers at Princeton University have found that the layout of cones in a chicken's eyes follow a special pattern, which could lead to advanced optical devices.
When first looking at the placement of the different kind of cones in a chicken's eyes, researchers thought they were placed randomly. This would seem unlikely as randomness would impair vision, and birds are known to have good vision. The researchers got to work attempting to model the layout and found that there is indeed a pattern, called disordered hyperuniformity. What this means is that over a large distance, variations of the cones are suppressed, like in a crystal, but over short distances there is disorder, like in a fluid. The reason for this is the presence of exclusion zones around each cone, in which another cone, especially one of the same type, should not enter, as they will interfere with each other. Therefore to optimally pack the cones, the avian eye evolved this disordered hyperuniform design.
Potentially this information could be applied to create self-organizing optics that can transmit light as efficiently as a crystal, while being flexible like a fluid.
Source: Princeton University