Acoustics and optics for nanosciences and quantum physics – Nanophotonics in Nature

List of members


Internships and jobs






  • Permanent members : Serge Berthier, Willy Daney de Marcillac
  • Invited member : Bernd Schöllhorn (LEM – UPC)


For several years now, our group has been working on the study of natural photonic structures. These structures were developed in a different context from artificial ones – that of natural selection – and their study opens the way to new theoretical and experimental approaches, and to a new vision of industrial product development.
Natural structures are built according to three fundamental principles, quite different from our own:

  • They are multifunctional,
  • Their architecture is complex and generally multi-scale,
  • They are developed from a very small number of components, and all these parameters are optimized.Thus, the core of our work is the study and development of bio-inspired multifunctional photonic structures. These are then oriented towards the transposition of natural approaches, both the concepts (disorder, multifunctionality…) and the structures themselves, for various purposes: renewable energy, mainly solar, color effects, detection structures, transparent or anti-reflective structures and more recently emissive structures (fluorescence and bioluminescence). This last, highly exploratory, direction will form the core of our activity in the years to come, and is carried out in multidisciplinary collaboration with the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle and various organizations around the world: iThemba LABS (Cape Town, South Africa), Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources in Hanoi (Vietnam), National Museum of Nature, Zoologische Staatssammlung München (Germany).







We are also very active in popularizing and disseminating our research to the general public and schools of all levels, with numerous radio and TV broadcasts, documentary films, conferences and exhibitions.


  • Jacques Livage (CMCP)
  • Romain Garouste, Marianne Elias Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité, (CNRS-MNHN)
  • Pascal Jean Lopez, Laboratory of Biology of Aquatic Organisms and Ecosystems (BOREA)
  • CEEBIOS (Center for Study and Expertise in Biomimicry)


  • ANR Clearwing
  • HFSP grant (Transparency)
  • MITI LumiNest (Mission pour les Initiatives Transverses et Interdisciplinaires – CNRS)


  • Serge Berthier, Bernd Schöllhorn, Light-Arthropods Interactions (2024), Springer, Sous presse.
  • S. Berthier, B. Schöllhorn. Des nids de guêpes d’une intense fluorescence. La Recherche, 2022 Oct/Dec., N°571, 102.
  • W. Daney de Marcillac, L.T.P. Nguyen, C. Archeloff, S. Berthier, B. Schöllhorn, Bright green fluorescence of Asian paper wasp nests. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 2021, 18: 20210418. 10.1098/rsif.2021.0418
  • Doris Gomez, Charline Pinna, Jonathan Pairraire, Monica Arias, Jérôme Barbut, et al.. Transparency in butterflies and moths: structural diversity, optical properties and ecological relevance. 2020. ⟨hal-03012533⟩
  • Mónica Arias, Marianne Elias, Christine Andraud, Serge Berthier, Doris Gomez. Transparency improves concealment in cryptically coloured moths. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Wiley, 2020, 33 (2), pp.247-252. ⟨10.1111/jeb.13560⟩. ⟨hal-02346924⟩Magali Thomé, Elodie Richalot, Serge Berthier. Light guidance in photonic structures of Morpho butterfly wing scales. Applied physics. A, Materials science & processing, Springer Verlag, 2020, 126 (10), ⟨10.1007/s00339-020-03948-x⟩. ⟨hal-03098652⟩
  • A. Gibaud, J. Villanova, O. Cherkas, A. Bulou, L. Kamtcheu Ouanssi, et al.. Analysis of diatoms by holotomography. Surfaces and Interfaces, Elsevier, 2019, 17, pp.100358. ⟨10.1016/j.surfin.2019.100358⟩. ⟨hal-02340161⟩
  • Hugo Gruson, Marianne Elias, Juan Parra, Christine Andraud, Serge Berthier, et al.. Distribution of iridescent colours in hummingbird communities results from the interplay between selection for camouflage and communication. 2020. ⟨hal-02372238v2⟩
  • Melanie Mcclure, Corentin Clerc, Charlotte Desbois, Aimilia Meichanetzoglou, Marion Cau, et al.. Why has transparency evolved in aposematic butterflies? Insights from the largest radiation of aposematic butterflies, the Ithomiini. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2019, 286 (1901), pp.20182769. ⟨10.1098/rspb.2018.2769⟩. ⟨hal-02135513⟩
  • Hugo Gruson, Christine Andraud, Willy Daney de Marcillac, Serge Berthier, Marianne Elias, et al.. Quantitative characterization of iridescent colours in biological studies: a novel method using optical theory. Interface Focus, Royal Society publishing, 2019, Living light: optics, ecology and design principles of natural photonic structures, 9 (1), pp.20180049. ⟨10.1098/rsfs.2018.0049⟩. ⟨hal-01961448v2⟩
  • Ali Mcheik, Sophie Cassaignon, Jacques Livage, Alain Gibaud, Serge Berthier, et al. Optical Properties of Nanostructured Silica Structures From Marine Organisms. Frontiers in Marine Science, Frontiers Media, 2018, 5, ⟨10.3389/fmars.2018.00123⟩. ⟨hal-01904909⟩

Recent documentaries.

  • Nature = Future: A solar butterfly (2019)
  • Reconnexion S01 Ep 16 (2020), ARTE
  • Nanosurvies, the invisible powers of nature (2020). Grand Prix for Documentary and Green Award d’Or at the Deauville Green Awards 2021
  • Les nanotechnologies du vivant, Documentary series – (2021) ARTE
  • Le message des papillons (2022). Ushuaïa TV, ARTE/ZDF …
  • Butterflies, nature’s superheroes: Episode 2: The super resistants. (2023) ARTE.