Overview of Biomimicry
Biomimicry is the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes. Basically, it’s a scientific field that uses biological systems to solve humanity’s industrial problems.
One example is that shark skin has been found to prevent biofilm formation, so Sharklet Technologies has developed a catheter with a micropattern similar to the surface of shark skin. It has been found to reduce microbial growth significantly.
Sandcastle Worms secrete a chemical to create a mineral shell made out of sand; the pH level in the ocean triggers the glue to harden. Scientists have mimicked this secretion to form a synthetic glue which is liquid at room temperature and solid at body temperature. It has been shown to be non-toxic and biodegradable and can be used on complex fractures in the skull, face, knee, ankle, and other joints.
Researchers at Kansai University (関西大学) investigated the micropattern of mosquito needles because they are painful upon penetration. They are now designing a needle that penetrates similarly by creating structures at the nanoscale. It uses pressure to stabilize and painlessly glide into the skin. Current tests have shown that it work flawlessly.
Other applications including modeling air conditioning after termite mounds (Architecture), modeling wind turbine blades after aerodynamic humpback whale fins, modeling solar panels after butterfly wings, using natural ecosystems to develop self-sustaining farms, and modeling communications after dolphins so that signals can be sent underwater.
Biomimicry is becoming more popular in industry and offers innovative and sustainable challenges in the industrial world. I’m curious to see what else we can pull from nature.
“Definition of Biomimicry.”
The Economist. “Glues bones” (25 Aug 2009).
Rogers, Mike. “What is a Shark?”
“Superglue for Broken Bones” (5 Jun 2012).
The Biomimicry Institute. “Inspiring Sustainable Innovation” (2015).
“Understanding Sharklet Surface Protection Productions” (Apr 2012).