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Posted: Apr 02, 2014

Bio-inspired experimental nanomaterials

(Nanowerk News) Over the past century, we have expanded enormously our understanding and appreciation of the multitude of wonderfully complex processes and mechanisms that are present in nature. Our increased knowledge of how plants and animals have evolved to better adapt to their habitats and the environment has also had a profound effect on other fields of human endeavor. In particular, the door has been opened to a multitude of opportunities concerning what is loosely termed ‘bio-inspiration’ in the fields of engineering and the advancement of man-made technologies. Today indeed, the pioneering innovation in a wide range of practical applications, such as the development of new multi-functional materials, draws directly from the well of experience that nature provides, as scientists strive to find more efficient and environmentally sustainable technical solutions.

While recognising that bio-inspiration for technological development is already an established concept, "An Experimental Study on Adhesive or Anti-Adhesive, Bio-Inspired Experimental Nanomaterials" by Italian scientists Emiliano Lepore and Nicola Pugno, released in Open Access by De Gruyter Open, sets out to explore the potential of three categories of bio-inspired materials, namely, adhesives, anti-adhesives, and materials designed to offer exceptional characteristics – particularly in terms of their strength-to-weight ratio. In each of these areas, the technologies, which are currently at the forefront of scientific research, are described in relation to how they have been inspired by nature in an attempt to optimise their physical characteristics and performance in operation, with an aim to design and develop new innovative products.

Lepore and Pugno investigate a wide range of natural systems and employ original experimental procedures, the book additionally stands out for its rigorous and innovative approach to biomaterials. For example, the challenge of creating strong, reliable and affordable adhesives appears in numerous areas of engineering, such as the development of aircrafts, and all types of vehicles for transportation on land or water, where the need to save energy consumption by reducing weight is of paramount importance. There is also a specific interest in bonding dissimilar materials, which due to their physical properties prohibit the application of more conventional joining techniques. In this field, inspiration has been sought by investigating the adhesive abilities of insects, spiders, and reptiles.

“By discussing experimental studies on geckos, lotus leaves and spider webs, this monograph encourages the reader to gain inspiration from nature in order to develop technologies and solutions across a broad range of applications which offer significant improvements and advantages in terms of their effectiveness and efficiency” – says Prof. Cecilia Surace from Polytechnic University of Turin. The authors make a case, that by understanding how nature can help to cater for our everyday needs, rather than abusing our planet and polluting the atmosphere, we may learn one of the most important lessons of all: how to achieve true well-being and sustainability for all life on earth.
Source: De Gruyter
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