Bioinspired Technology: MCDB researchers studying giant clams find lessons in the surprising methods these animals use for creating white coloration

Jan 22, 2016

The next great technological advance in smartphone screens and solar cells could come from an unexpected source — giant clams. New research from the lab of MCDB professor Daniel Morse shows some species of these large bivalves produce their white coloration via color-mixing techniques akin to those used in reflective displays. Appearing in the journal Optica, the study focuses on two species of giant clam and the symbiotic photosynthetic algae with which they cohabitate. Iridescent cells on the inside edge of the clams’ shells where the algae live produce a dazzling array of colors, including blues, greens, golds and — more rarely — white, which the animals mix in different ways.

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