Who better than Nature would know about the design of materials! Biological materials constitute most of the plants and animals around us. Due to their superior physical properties such as mechanical, optical, magnetic and others, materials synthesized in nature have attracted considerable attention by materials scientists. The area of research that derives inspiration from nature to design new smart materials is termed bio-inspired materials research. This includes the application of biological principles to the development of novel bio-inspired synthetic materials. Some well-known examples of bio-inspired materials include Velcro (inspired by plant burrs), surfaces that are self-cleaning (super-hydrophobic surface of the lotus leaf), antireflective surfaces of solar panels (insect compound eye), fiber-reinforced composites (wood), surfaces inspired by the structure of shark skin which could one day improve the aerodynamic performance of planes and cars and much more.
Nevertheless, it is very challenging to unravel and understand the mechanisms utilized by organisms and to translate them into bio-inspired synthetic materials that have structural and functional superiority. A thorough fundamental analysis of structure-function relations in biological materials must precede the engineering of new bio-inspired materials. Numerous material’s concepts can be adopted from Nature. Some examples are: crystal growth, functional tailoring, hierarchical structuring, damage repair, self-healing and self-cleaning and more. Successful translation of various biostrategies into synthetic bio-inspired materials advances our understanding of the mechanisms utilized by organisms and opens up new avenues in the field of materials science and engineering.
At the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, research topics in the field of Bio-inspired materials include:
- Bio-inspired crystal growth
- Bio-inspired superhydrophobic surfaces
- Bio-inspired band gap engineering
Specific research activities in the field of Bio-inspired materials can be found at: