The image-forming mirror in the eye of the scallop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Scallops possess a visual system comprising up to 200 eyes, each containing a concave mirror rather than a lens to focus light. The hierarchical organization of the multilayered mirror is controlled for image formation, from the component guanine crystals at the nanoscale to the complex three-dimensional morphology at the millimeter level. The layered structure of the mirror is tuned to reflect the wavelengths of light penetrating the scallop’s habitat and is tiled with a mosaic of square guanine crystals, which reduces optical aberrations. The mirror forms images on a double-layered retina used for separately imaging the peripheral and central fields of view. The tiled, off-axis mirror of the scallop eye bears a striking resemblance to the segmented mirrors of reflecting telescopes.


  • Benjamin A. Palmer
  • Gavin J. Taylor
  • Vlad Brumfeld
  • Dvir Gur
  • Michal Shemesh
  • Nadav Elad
  • Aya Osherov
  • Dan Oron
  • Steve Weiner
  • Lia Addadi
External organisations
  • Weizmann Institute of Science Israel
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1172-1175
Number of pages4
Issue number6367
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch