Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Reduction of Lens Reflexion by the “Moth Eye” Principle


THE problem of surface reflexion from lenses has led1 to the development of multilayer interference structures which can suppress the reflexion from glass surfaces by a factor of 10 or more throughout the visible spectrum. But observations on the corneas of nocturnal insects indicate that nature may have anticipated the problems2. Electron microscope studies of the corneal lenses of moths reveal that the outer surface is covered in a regular array of conical protuberances, typically of about 200 nm height and spacing. Bernhard2 proposed that the function of this structure might be to suppress reflexions by effectively proving a graded transition of refractive index between the air and the cornea. The proposal was substantiated by measurements with microwave radiation reflected from a model of the array, scaled up appropriately for the longer wavelengths.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Cox, J. T., and Hass, G., in Physics of Thin Films (edit. by Hass, G., and Thun, R. E.) 2, 239 (Academic Press, New York, 1964).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bernhard, C. G., Endeavour, 26, 79 (1967).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Auton, J. P., and Hutley, M. C., Infrared Phys., 12, 95 (1972).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Lord Rayleigh, Lond. Math. Soc., 11, 51 (1880).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

CLAPHAM, P., HUTLEY, M. Reduction of Lens Reflexion by the “Moth Eye” Principle. Nature 244, 281–282 (1973).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing