Can Mantis Shrimp Help Improve CD Technology?

Mantis shrimp are actually not shrimp at all. They aren’t mantids either. Mantis shrimp are stomatopods, members of the order Stomatopoda. The mantis shrimp that will be discussed in this article are found on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. They are the species Gonodactylus smithii.

They are usually about a foot long and resemble both shrimp and mantids. They are found in many different colors, including neon colors!


Can Mantis Shrimp Help Improve CD Technology

Can Mantis Shrimp Help Improve CD Technology


This species is the first and only organism that is known to be able to detect the four linear and two circular polarization components of light required for Stokes parameters at the same time. This means that they can distinguish between different forms of polarized light.




All mantis shrimps possess hyper spectral color vision, which allows them to see up to twelve colors, including ultraviolet. Humans can only see in three colors. Their eyes are thought to be the most complex of all animals.

A recent study done at the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences has shown that the technology found in the eyes of these shrimp is similar to but more advanced than that used in CD technology.

Information on CDs is stored digitally, that is, as a series of flat surfaces and bumps which are interpreted as ones and zeroes. A laser is used to read the CD by detecting the presence of a one or a zero on the surface of the disc.

When the laser beam hits a flat surface, it is reflected back to an optical sensor and read as a one. When it hits a bump, it is deflected and does not hit the sensor and this is recognized as a zero.

CD-Recordable discs use translucent spots or darkened spots on the surface of the disc to create ones and zeros, instead of flat surfaces and bumps. Before the laser light from the CD player hits the CD, it’s converted into a central peak and 2 side peaks and then eventually passed through a plate that converts it to circularly polarized light.

Like mantis shrimps, CD players are able to convert light from one form to another. However CD players can only do this with one color in the spectrum of light. Mantis shrimp can do it across the whole color spectrum. Scientists hope to copy the design of the mantis shrimp’s eyes-which consist of cell membranes rolled into tubes.

They hope to use liquid crystals to mimic the properties of the cells found in the eyes of the mantis shrimps. This would form the foundation of many new optical devices in the future.


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