Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Biomimetics (also known as bionics and biognosis) is the application of methods and systems found in nature to modern technology. This technology transfer is desirable because evolutionary pressure typically forces natural systems to become highly optimized and efficient.
It is estimated by Julian Vincent , professor of biomimetics at the University of Bath in the UK, that "at present there is only a 10% overlap between biology and technology in terms of the mechanisms used."
- Mimicking natural methods of manufacture of chemical compounds to create new ones
- Imitating mechanisms found in nature (velcro)
- Studying organizational principles from social behaviour of organisms, such as the flocking behaviour of birds or the emergent behaviour of bees and ants
Examples of biomimetics
- Velcro is the most famous example of biomimetics. In 1948, the Swiss engineer George de Mestral was cleaning his dog of burrs picked up on a walk when he realized how the hooks of the burrs clung to the fur.
- Leonardo da Vinci 's flying machines and ships are early examples of drawing from nature in engineering.
- Julian Vincent drew from the study of pinecones when he developed in 2004 "smart" clothing that adapts to changing temperatures. "I wanted a nonliving system which would respond to changes in moisture by changing shape," he said. "There are several such systems in plants, but most are very small -- the pinecone is the largest and therefore the easiest to work on." Pinecones respond to warmer temperatures by opening their scales (to disperse their seeds). The smart fabric does the same thing, opening up when it is warm, and shutting tight when cold.
- "Morphing airplane wings" that change shape according to the speed and duration of flight have been designed in 2004 by biomimetic scientists from Penn State University. The morphing wings were inspired by different bird species that have differently shaped wings according to the speed at which they fly. In order to change the shape and underlying structure of the airplane wings, the researchers needed to make the overlaying skin also be able to change, which their design does by covering the wings with fish-inspired scales that could slide over each other.
- Nanostructures and physical mechanisms that produce the shining color of butterfly wings were reproduced in silicon by Greg Parker , professor of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton and research student Luca Plattner in the field of photonics, which is eletronics using photons as the information carrier instead of electrons.
- "There are millions of years of research that can help us, in nature," -Anja-Karina Pahl , professor at Bath University
- "Nature has been conducting evolutionary experiments for millions of years, so if we're lucky enough to find something close to what we require in nature, then it's very likely to have been highly optimized, and we're unlikely to do much better." -Greg Parker
- "Mankind and industry can only benefit from bringing closer the study of nature and the development of new technologies and designs." -Luca Plattner
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