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December 17th, 2003
Meet a future jewel of technology
This Australian beetle really is a gem: the greenish scales on its back are identical to opal. Scientists have already had some success copying nature, recently creating artificial mother of pearl by mimicking the way abalones build up nanolayers of different materials to make their shells. But the beetle's method for making perfect opals posed a bigger challenge than this, because it probably used clever pieces of tiny machinery, such as molecular motors, and templates to extrude the nano-spheres, Dr Parker said.
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