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How Modern Technology is Inspired by the Natural World

August 24, 2017 |

This article was originally published on The Conversation

“What do a kingfisher, cocklebur pods and a Namibian beetle have in common? Besides being living organisms, they have all served as inspiration for creative human technologies to solve challenging problems.

The kingfisher’s sleek beak spurred the streamlined nose design on high-speed trains in Japan. Cockleburs inspired the hook-and-loop fastener system Velcro. And the Namibian beetle’s back inspired a water-collection plant in the desert. This is biomimicry. It is an approach to innovation, defined by the Biomimicry Institute as seeking: “sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” There are many solutions in nature — and we are learning about more and more of them.

As a researcher in materials science and engineering, I have worked on a variety of different substances. These include biomaterials (implantable ceramics, dental ceramics and titanium alloys) and a variety of different coatings technologies (thermal barrier coatings in turbine engines, corrosion-resistant coatings and catalyst supports). Biomimicry has helped my teams design solutions that we otherwise would likely not have explored. Inspiration has come from organisms themselves, how organisms make materials and how organisms work together…”

Read on at: The Conversation.

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