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Butterflies Can Help To Prevent Bank Fraud

Butterflies Can Help To Prevent Bank Fraud

40725911 - closeup butterfly on flower (common tiger butterfly)

The idea that butterflies can help thwart bank fraud and prevent the circulation of counterfeit money may seem ridiculous at first. After all, if this is true, then why are these and related crimes still common today? Did some butterflies finally decide to lend their investigative skills to police cases? Obviously, butterflies have no idea that their natural gifts are exploited by humans when trying to solve criminal cases. There is also a good reason as to why counterfeit money is still circulated today. Butterflies have only now been made useful for assisting investigators in fraud cases. The secret is in a butterfly’s wings. For decades scientists have struggled to reproduce the precise color scheme found on butterfly wings. However, one group of researchers has recently succeeded at reproducing the unique colors of a butterfly’s wings, and they did it in much the same way as colors naturally form on butterfly wings. These unique colors can be used to mark legitimate forms of currency.

Butterfly wings are not your typical forms of animal tissue. Butterfly wings show vibrantly colorful designs. Most butterfly wings show several different pigments. However, as it turns out, pigments do not exist on butterfly wings; instead a butterfly’s colorful wings become noticeable once light bounces of microscopic structures within the wings. This means that replicating a butterfly’s wing colors will not work with paper and colored pencils. Instead researchers can only replicate a butterfly’s colorful wings if they somehow learn to replicate a butterfly’s several layers of cuticle and hairs, which is what makes butterfly wings vibrant and colorful. Finally researchers were able to resort to nanofabrication procedures in order to replicate butterfly wings with perfect accuracy. This process is complicated and requires self-assembly and atomic layer deposition. The material displaying the replicated color design contained a massive amount of tiny scales, just like butterfly wings. The scales allowed the replicated copy to shine just like real butterfly wings. Researchers believe that this new method of replicating butterfly colors could be used to mark currency as legitimate, while counterfeit money could never contain the same color scheme due to the difficulty in replicating the colors. Someday, we all may look at a ten dollar bill and see the vibrant butterfly-like colors on the currency.

Do you think that this replicated color scheme could have other potential applications?