An investigation of green iridescence on the mollusc Patella granatina

05 Jun 2007

In this paper we investigate the relatively rare phenomenon of iridescence on the outer surface of seashells (not the well known pearly inner surfaces). Using reflection spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy we show that rows of iridescent green spots on the mollusc Patella granatina are caused by a thin-film stack buried about 100 µm below the rough outer surface of the shell. The high-density layers in the stack seem to be made of crystalline aragonite, but according to Raman spectroscopy and ellipsometry measurements the low-density layers as well as the bulk of the shell wall are a mixture of porous aragonite and organic materials such as carotenoids.