The main aim of scientists and engineers the world over is to solve problems in efficient ways. What better way to get the solution for a problem than to observe nature? Humans have always examined nature to find out how to do things better over time. Biomimicry combines the best of both worlds!
Airplanes were inspired by birds and solar cells were built on the idea of photosynthesis in plants. Nature has shown us that it can inspire us in more than just a few ways.
Here are 8 Biomimicry technologies that could improve our lives.
Biomimicry Cancer-cure based on Viruses: Engineers, scientists, doctors, and computer engineers are all working together to cure diseases like cancer, and one solution they have come up with involves delivering the cure to individual infected cells. They are building medical nano particles that can sniff out cancer cells, and deliver the cure to exactly the right cell, just like how viruses determine which cells to infect.
Biomimicry Termite-inspired office buildings: Although termites are considered pests because they eat up wood and hence tear our structures down, they are one of nature’s skilled architects. Their structures captured the world’s attention when the architect of the Eastgate center in Harare, Zimbabwe built the center based on how termites built their homes. The reason behind this inspiration was that even in the heat of Africa, termite-built structures maintained the constant temperature of 31 degrees Celsius.
Biomimicry Disinfectant based on sharks: The unique surface structure of sharks makes them resistant to parasites, and bacterial, as well as fungal infections. Sharks’ skin is studded with diamond-shaped structures and is hence uninhabitable to these pests. Scientists have been able to imitate this type of a structure on the surface of adhesive film and according to a report on Business Pundit; they plan to test it in schools, hospitals, and other places that vicious germs spread.
Biomimicry Solution for water scarcity from beetles: When MIT students read about the Stenocara beetle in the Namib Desert which obtains moisture from the air, they studied the mechanism behind it. The beetle had tiny hydrophilic bumps on its back that attracted water from morning mist. It then sucked water from superhydrophobic channels on its back. The students then created a material like it, which is alternatively superhydrophilic, and superhydrophobic, which they say, can be applied to any industry.
Biomimicry Improving aerodynamics based on whales?: Scientists and engineers in 2004 came together and published a paper that had surprising findings. Apparently, the bumps on whales’ fins allowed them to achieve greater lift with lesser effort. Although the idea of seeing airplanes with bumpy wings is yet to prove itself, a company called WhalePower used this concept in its wind turbines, noticed that bumpy turbine-blades inspired by tubercles on whales’ fins reduced drag by 32% and allowed for an 8% increase in lift. Since the blades spun even at lower wind speeds, there was more power generation with less wind.
Biomimicry Display improvisation inspired by butterfly wings: Qualcomm created Mirasol, a technology that allows the display of color without pigment, after getting the idea from tiny structures in butterfly wings. These structures had the ability to reflect colors using the extremely small supporting framework within the wings.
Biomimicry Ant-inspired autonomous navigation: Autonomous navigation till now has not been attainable completely by robots. Either one has to have pre-installed maps, or communicate with the GPS system. However, engineers are studying ants to find a solution to this problem, since Cataglyphis ants in the Sahara desert use a visual piloting, and systematic search in combination with path integration. They hope to build robots that will mimic this behavior.
Biomimicry Self-cleaning surfaces: Plants’ leaves have microscopic ridges that make it difficult for dirt and grime to stick to them. Self-cleaning surfaces (like paint) mimic this feature and allows dirt to be washed off much lesser effort.
Which one do you think is the coolest? Let me know in the comment section below.
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