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Molecular movement of plants reveal amazing mechanics

April 20th, 2017|Categories: Engineering, Materials, Structures|Sectors: , , |

Molecular movement of plants reveal amazing mechanics

While members of the plant kingdom may appear to move only when acted upon by an outside force, time lapse photography of twisting vines, unfurling flowers, or popping seed pods betrays the programed movement of plants. Underlying such dynamics are the juxtaposition of clockwise and counterclockwise “twisted” molecules. According to this My Paper article, scientists in Europe have begun to mimic this principle with exciting potential applications in robotics, medicine, and more.

Curated by Mark Dorfman

Fern fractals inspire fast flow that saves energy

April 8th, 2017|Categories: Energy Efficiency, Materials, Structures|Sectors: , , |

Fern fractals inspire fast flow that saves energy

Solving the challenge of creating smaller, more efficient batteries enables greater use and application of renewable energy systems. Inspired by the microgeometry of fern leaves, scientists created electrodes that can store more power per unit area while reducing the path that electrons have to follow to complete a circuit, according to this Nature article. Small geometries not only increase efficiency, but are amenable to powering small, wearable devices, or large, regional systems.

Curated by Mark Dorfman

Innovation ideas from the super strength of sandworm jaws

April 1st, 2017|Categories: Engineering, Materials, Textiles|Sectors: , |

Innovation ideas from the super strength of sandworm jaws

Sandworms use their powerful jaws to catch prey. Additionally, these tough but flexible jaws can adapt to different pH conditions. This MIT article shows that researchers found that the material that makes up their jaws can strengthen with the addition of zinc ions, and metal crosslinks in the material’s molecular structure make it more flexible and dynamic. Sensors and soft robotics could benefit from studying the sandworm jaw.

Curated by Robyn Klein

Engineering, biomimicry fusion creates pavilion that grows

March 23rd, 2017|Categories: Architecture, Engineering, Life's Principles, Materials, Product Design, Structures|Sectors: , , , , |

Engineering, biomimicry fusion creates pavilion that grows

The Elytra Filament Pavilion is now displaying in Germany. The pavilion, inspired by the hexagonal structures in beetle wings, is woven by a robot. This Inhabitat article mentions that real-time sensing data directs how the pavilion grows, opening the door for new thinking on how robots and engineering can help our designs evolve (as well as meet other Life’s Principles that seem incongruent with the built design).

Curated by Jamie Dwyer

Scientists look to octopi to rethink robots

March 16th, 2017|Categories: Engineering, Materials|Sectors: , |

Scientists look to octopi to rethink robots

A common challenge in biomimetic design is our own limitations in materiality compared to that observed in the natural world. Nature has recently published a paper from robotics scientists making new leaps in the ability to mimic the soft-bodied articulation of octopi by rethinking typically rigid aspects of robotic construction, such as batteries.

Curated by Erin Rovalo

DNA may hold key to building super computers of the future

March 10th, 2017|Categories: Product Design|Sectors: , , , , |

DNA may hold key to building super computers of the future

One of the most complex, essential, and amazing components of life that holds the key to genetic codes throughout nature, DNA is now being touted as a key to building faster and more efficient computers. This Edgy Labs article details research to mimic DNA’s self-replicating properties to create a computer system that grow as it computes. Looking to nature could create “exponentially” faster computers.

Curated by Janine Benyus

Examining biomimicry’s ‘significant potential’ in architecture

March 2nd, 2017|Categories: Architecture, Product Design|Sectors: |

Examining biomimicry’s ‘significant potential’ in architecture

While I think “What can humans learn from nature?” is a better design question than “Can human intelligence design better than nature?” the Design Exchange’s Evolution exhibit in Toronto appears to present some fascinating demonstrations of biomechanics and design opportunities through investigating how nature works. Shauna Levy, President and CEO of Design Exchange, says in this Canadian Architect article, “There is significant potential for innovation through exploration of biomimicry and we have an opportunity to showcase how some Canadian designers have addressed it.”

Erin-01Curated by Erin Rovalo

Researchers identify missing link in spider silk emulation

February 17th, 2017|Categories: Additive Manufacturing, Materials, Textiles|Sectors: , , , , , , , , , , |

Researchers identify missing link in spider silk emulation

The limitation to emulating the super properties of spider silk for the last decade has not been the chemistry, but rather the method of extrusion. Turns out the amazing dynamics of spider silk rely critically on how the silk itself is spun through the spider’s spinnerets. The technology detailed in this Seeker article will open up possibilities for silk emulation for applications far beyond the suggested nerve repair opportunity.

Dayna-01Curated by Dayna Baumeister

Dolphins help solve tricky design challenge

February 10th, 2017|Categories: Materials, Product Design, Structures|Sectors: , , , |

Dolphins help solve tricky design challenge

The challenge: Design a micro, hyper-efficient laptop fan. The solution? In this case, computer manufacturing company Lenovo turned to one of our favorite sea mammals, the dolphin. By designing the fan to mimic the shape and design of a dolphin body, they were able to solve a sticky problem and create a high-performance fan for their laptops. Learn more in this Great Big Story video.

Jenna-01Curated by Jenna Cederberg

New technology could help us emulate nature’s brilliant shapes

February 4th, 2017|Categories: Additive Manufacturing, Architecture, Carbon, Energy Efficiency, Engineering, Materials, Product Design, Structures, Textiles, Water|Sectors: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

New technology could help us emulate nature’s brilliant shapes

The key to many of nature’s strategies is using shape rather than material. Emulating those shapes, especially at the nano-scale, has proven challenging. This new platform technology has the potential to leverage the shape of nature’s surface textures to add functionality to a wide variety of surfaces by building from the bottom up.

Dayna-01Curated by Dayna Baumeister