Using a replica of the beetle's scales, Bartl is now working to build a diamond nanostructure using molecular self-assembly so that it can be easily mass-produced in a suitable material. Bartl, a calm and soft-spoken Austrian, is the sort that seeks out difficult challenges. (He's an avid runner. In 2004 a half- marathon in Santa Barbara involved a climb of nearly 4,000 feet, and a 1999 race took him up an Austrian mountain.) He just didn't expect he would be using nature to meet them. He thinks the insect world may hold the key to other breakthroughs, so he is studying the scales of other types of exotic beetles. "The more you look at these biological structures," he says, "the more you find out how amazing they are."