Sapphirinid copepods, which are marine zooplankton, exhibit tunable structural colors originating from a layered structure of guanine crystal plates. In the present study, the coloring portion of adult male of a sapphirinid copepod, Sapphirina nigromaculata, under the dorsal body surface was characterized to clarify the regulation and actuation mechanism of the layered guanine crystals for spectral control. The coloring portions are separated into small domains 70–100 µm wide consisting of an ordered array of stacked hexagonal plates ~1.5 µm wide and ~80 nm thick. We found the presence of chitin-based honeycomb frameworks that are composed of flat compartments regulating the guanine crystal plates. The structural color is deduced to be tuned from blue to achromatic via yellow and purple by changing the interplate distance according to vital observation and optical simulation using a photonic array model. The framework structures are essential for the organization and actuation of the particular photonic arrays for the exhibition of the tunable structural color.
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