Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Biomimicry of Composite Materials

Biomimicry is known as "the process of understanding and applying biological principles to human designs". It is a method of understanding why something works so well in nature, and then applying the reasoning to something man made.

Here is an example, researchers are trying to develop a robot to climb walls, instead of reinventing the wheel, researchers will study a gecko, to learn how it is able to climb walls so well, and then try to copy those features. (Geckos have a hard time filing patents)

Above is a video describing this exact example.

In composite structures and composite materials, there is much researchers and scientists could learn by first looking at nature. US News reports here:

To help wind turbines advance further, scientists are looking into morphing blades, which can rapidly change their aerodynamic profile to best suit the prevailing wind conditions.

"The idea was born from a simple observation of a fish in an aquarium," said researcher Asfaw Beyene, a mechanical engineer at San Diego State University. "Many flying and swimming animals have superior efficiencies than manmade devices. The primary difference between natural motion and motion of manmade devices is lack of geometric adaptability to varying flow conditions."

In another current study, which can be read here, researchers are trying to determine how a naturally occurring composite, teeth, can be so well adjusted to high impact and abrasion. They hope that what they discover will lead to better composite materials for aircraft and automotive components.

What other composite products or composite materials could benefit from biomimicry?

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