Research group Evolution and Optics of Nanostructures (EON)

We are broadly interested in the optics, evolution and development of animal colors, primarily those produced by highly organized tissues (structural colors) in feathers. These tissues act as one, two and three-dimensional photonic crystals and are thus of interest both at a fundamental and applied level. We use techniques including light microscopy, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, electron tomography and atomic force microscopy to examine the structure of these tissues and use optical modeling to determine how they create color.  We then mimic these colors using both natural and synthetic materials. This line of research, along with phylogenetic mapping and reconstruction, should shed some light on how evolution has tweaked a few basic materials (keratin and melanin) to create the astonishing diversity of avian structural colors. Other natural nanostructures are used as antimicrobial defenses on bird eggs. We use protein assays, antimicrobial assays, molecular methods and some old-fashioned field work to test these ideas. I encourage students interested in graduate work in my lab (either as a master's student or as a Ph.D. student) to contact me directly before applying.


Evolution and Optics of Nanostructures

Contact information

Ghent University, Department of Biology, TEREC
K.L.Ledeganckstraat 35
9000 Gent
Office : 190.018
tel: +32 (0)9 264 53 24