Shrimp offer more benefits than just being a tasty snack dipped in cocktail sauce. Scientists have discovered that mantis shrimp (stomatopod crustacean) offer a new way of making polarizers, the optical filters used in camera lenses, sunglasses etc.

Mantis shrimp use a unique language based on reflecting light, visual signals, to communicate with one another, since they don’t have vocal chords. The linear polarized light signals prevent them from being detected by predators.

Mantis shrimp communication yields reflective polarizer
The Mantis Shrimp

Researchers studied how the shrimp communicate, in particular their anatomy while taking detailed measurements of light. They combined their research with theoretical modeling and determined that the shrimp manipulate light across the structure of their anatomy rather than through depth, as most polarizers work.

The shrimp’s polarizing patches manipulate light across their shells and limbs using a series of hollow “pores” that act as reflectors, allowing them to manipulate microscopically thin sections in order to produce a wide range of colorful patterns of light.

Dr. Nicholas Roberts, a biological scientist and member of the research team at the University of Bristol said in a press release,

When it comes to developing a new way to make polarizers, nature has come up with optical solutions we haven’t yet thought of. Industries working on optical technologies will be interested in this new solution mantis shrimp have found to create a polarizer as new ways for humans to use and control light are developed.

One day, this research may lead to new developments in polarizers in consumer products that are more advanced, smaller in size and with more complex light patterns. Just thank a shrimp!

Nancy Loyan Schuemann

Nancy Loyan Schuemann is a writer specializing in architecture, safes, profiles, histories and a multi-published fiction and non-fiction author and is Nailah, Middle Eastern dancer.

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