Orb web spider silks: how their optics affects potential visibility

Deb M. Kane*, Benjamin Snowdon, Sean J. Blamires, Douglas J. Little

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

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Abstract

Certain spider silks, as used in aerial orb webs, are high quality optical micro-fibers with widths of 1 to a few microns and a refractive index of ∼1.55. It has been reported that such silks have reduced relative reflectance in the ultra-violet and violet, as compared to the rest of the visible light spectrum with implications for their visibility to insect vision. Relative reflectance as a function of wavelength gives no insight into the fraction of the intensity of light that falls on a spider silk that will be backscattered/reflected into a solid angle such that it might result in it being visible to an oncoming insect, for example. We will report comparative results from measurements of the radial silks of four orb web weaving spider species. These species evolved at different times and/or to exploit different biological habits. One species is nocturnal. Combining the results of photoreflectance measurements and optical surface profiling studies shows how the geometry of the spider silks may have evolved to reduce the scattered/reflected light from the radial silk of certain species. The properties of certain spider silks as an optical material with low UV absorption also emerge from this study.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAOS Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology (ACOFT) and Australian Conference on Optics, Lasers, and Spectroscopy (ACOLS) 2019
EditorsArnan Mitchell, Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop
Place of PublicationBellingham, Washington
PublisherSPIE
Pages1-2
Number of pages2
ISBN (Electronic)9781510631410
ISBN (Print)9781510631403
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2019
EventAOS Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology, ACOFT 2019 and Australian Conference on Optics, Lasers, and Spectroscopy, ACOLS 2019 - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 9 Dec 201912 Dec 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE
PublisherSPIE
Volume11200
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X

Conference

ConferenceAOS Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology, ACOFT 2019 and Australian Conference on Optics, Lasers, and Spectroscopy, ACOLS 2019
CountryAustralia
CityMelbourne
Period9/12/1912/12/19

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2019 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.

Keywords

  • Light scattering
  • Micro-optical fiber
  • Optical surface profiling
  • Photoreflectance
  • Spider silk

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