November 17, 2016 - Mathias Kolle

Click to Signup Location: MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 3 Forbes Road, Lexington, MA 02420
Dinner Reservation Deadline: Monday, November 14, 2016 @ 6pm

Biological Inspiration in Optics and Photonics

The research in the Laboratory for Bio-inspired Photonic Engineering is focused on fundamental and applied aspects of conceiving and developing multifunctional, hierarchically structured, bio-inspired material systems with particular focus on stimuli-responsive and dynamically tunable optical performance. In this regard, we can benefit in several ways from highly sophisticated material solutions that have convergently evolved in various organisms. We explore design concepts found in biological photonic architectures and seek to understand the mechanisms underlying morphogenesis of bio-optical systems. We aim to devise viable manufacturing strategies that can benefit from insight in biological formation processes and the use of established synthetic routines alike. Ultimately, we strive to realize new photonic materials with tailor-made optical properties. Recently, we invented color-tunable elastic photonic fibers, a fully synthetic material analogue of the photonic structures found in a tropical fruit. We aim to establish these fibers as a material platform for applications in visual stress and strain sensing, the optical assessment of mechanical properties of living tissue, or as components in dynamic textiles and flexible photonic circuitry. We are also exploring the use of complex emulsions for opto-fluidic applications such as reconfigurable micro-lenses. In this presentation, I am going to provide an overview of our research on biological photonic systems and I will discuss examples of photonic materials that exploit specific biological light manipulation strategies.

Biological and bio-inspired photonic materials. a) Composite photonic structure found in the mineralized shell of Patella pellucida. b) The blue fruit of Margaritaria nobilis. c) Cross-section of a photonic fiber that mimics the fruit’s photonic architecture. d) High-resolution image of the fibers’ layered periodic morphology taken from the area marked by a white box in (c). e) Reversible tuning of the fiber color by strain. f) The butterfly Papilio blumei. g) Electron micrograph of a synthetic mimic of the butterfly’s photonic structure. h) Optical micrograph of the mimic taken in non-polarized (left) and in polarized light (right). i) Modification of the natural design for more pronounced optical effects. 

Mathias Kolle, Laboratory for Bio-inspired Photonic Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Mathias’ research focuses on the identification of unique optical sensing, communication and energy conversion mechanisms in nature and the development of bio-inspired, adaptive and actively tunable micro-optical devices. Through experimentation and optical modeling, and by employing a diversity of manufacturing principles including self-assembly and unconventional thin film processing techniques, his group is developing novel optical technologies. He joined the faculty of MIT as an Assistant Professor in 2013. Prior to that, Mathias held a Feodor Lynen research fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt - Foundation for postdoctoral studies at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of Harvard University, where his research was focused on bio-inspired photonics, bio-imaging and optical spectroscopy. He earned his degree in physics from the Saarland University in Germany and the University of Lorraine (formerly Henri Poincaré University) in France in 2006. Mathias then continued his graduate studies at the University of Cambridge in the UK at the Cavendish Laboratories, where he received his Ph.D. in 2010.


Dinner & Meeting reservations must be made by 6 PM, Monday November 14.  We can no longer accept dinner reservations after this cutoff.
Meeting-Only registrations are appreciated by Wednesday, November 16, the day before the meeting.  Walk-ins are acceptable for the meeting-only.

Please make online reservations via the "Click to signup" button above.

Reservations may also be left on the answering machine at (617) 584-0266. We no longer have an email address for reservations due to SPAM.

When making reservation requests, please provide the following information:

  • DINNER AND MEETING or meeting only
  • Name(s) and membership status
  • Daytime phone number where you can be reached (in case of change or cancellation)


MIT Lincoln Laboratory
3 Forbes Road
Lexington, MA 02420

(Map to MIT Lincoln Laboratory)

Networking—5:45 PM, Dinner—6:45, Meeting—7:30 PM.


Vegetarian option available on request

Dinner Prices:

   Register on/before
 DINNER Reservation Date 
 Late Reservations
Based on Availability
 NES/OSA Members and their guests   $30.00 each   $35.00 
 Non-members   $35.00 (See NOTE Below)   $40.00 
 Students   $5.00   $5.00 
 Post-Docs   $15.00   $15.00 









NOTE: The NES/OSA has not changed dinner prices in several years but has been facing higher costs. We have increased the cost of dinner by $5 this year. We will try to accommodate late reservations but cannot not guarantee that a meal will be available.

General Information on NES/OSA Meetings

Cancellations and No-shows:

If the meeting must be cancelled for any reason, we will try to call you at the phone number you leave with your reservation. Official notice of cancellation will be on our answering machine.

We have to pay for the dinners reserved as of the Tuesday before the meeting, so no-shows eat into our cash reserve. If you will not be able to attend, please let us know as early as possible. Otherwise, no-shows will be billed.

Membership Rates:

Regular members $15.00
Student members free




NOTE: The extra $5.00 of the non-member dinner fee can be used toward membership dues if the nonmember joins and pays dues for the current year at the meeting.