A broad range of optical phenomena in nature have created long-standing mysteries. For example, what gives butterflies and birds their rich colors? And how can sightings of some unusual natural phenomena like mirages or ball lightning be explained? The process of solving these mysteries has interacted synergistically with the modern fields of photonics, plasmonics, and metamaterials. I will show how S4sim, a transfer matrix-based optical simulation tool available on nanoHUB.org can be used to precisely calculate these behaviors. A few exciting real-world applications of this work will also be briefly discussed.
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