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Biomimicry

The mesh lets water through (blue) but holds back oil (red) (Photo: Jo McCulty/The Ohio St...

As we approach the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists are still trying to develop better ways of removing oil from water. Now, researchers at The Ohio State University believe that they may be onto something. They've developed a stainless steel mesh that allows water to pass through, but that stops oil.  Read More

Study lead author Amanda Stowers with the folding wings (Photo: Stanford University)

If you've ever watched a flying bird weaving its way through a forest, you may have wondered how it could do so without hitting its wings on the trees. Well, birds actually do hit trees with their wings. Unlike the rigid wings of an aircraft, however, birds' wings simply fold back under impact, then immediately fold open again to maintain flight. Now, scientists from Stanford University have developed wings for flapping-wing drones that do the same thing.  Read More

Festo's eMotionButterflies are reported capable of collective behavior and are able to aut...

Designing a robot that can convincingly move like a member of the animal kingdom is a much more difficult prospect than merely building something that has the outward appearance of one. Some of the best examples of both have come from the engineers at Festo, including a herring gull named SmartBird and a bit of a bounder known as the BionicKangaroo. As a taste of things to come at next month's Hannover Messe trade show in Germany, the company has now revealed three more biomimetic creations: a small colony of ants, a gripper modeled on a chameleon's tongue and some fine flyers in the shape of some big blue butterflies.  Read More

The new material utilizes the same protein that squids use to change color (Photo: Shutter...

We've already heard about two different studies in which scientists are developing camouflage systems inspired by squids' color-changing skin. If they're successful, the result could be military clothing that can change its coloration to match the environment. It's an intriguing idea, although it presumably still wouldn't allow soldiers to avoid detection by infrared cameras at night. Now, however, researchers from the University of California at Irvine are developed a stick-on covering that could let them do so.  Read More

While gecko feet utilize hair-like fibers, the new material uses similar manmade microscop...

In various types of manufacturing, parts are robotically picked and placed using graspers or suction cups. The former can damage fragile items, however, while the latter won't work in vacuums or on rough surfaces. That's why scientists from Germany's Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM) have developed – well, a new material. It utilizes the same principle as sticky gecko feet, but its gripping quality can be switched on and off as needed.  Read More

One of the box-patterned geckos used in the study (Photo: James Cook University)

Usually when we hear about the properties of geckos being applied to human technology, it's the reptiles' sticky feet that are in question. Now, however, scientists in Australia are looking at the manner in which a particular type of gecko is able to stay clean. Their findings could pave the way for things like water-repelling electronics, or clothes that never need washing.  Read More

Assistant Professor Stephan Rudykh with a sample of the material (Photo: Technion-Israel I...

On most fish, their hard, overlapping scales provide considerable protection against pokes and cuts. Because those independently-moving scales are each attached to a flexible underlying skin, however, the fish are still able to easily twist and turn their bodies. Scientists from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and MIT are now attempting to copy that structure, to develop flexible-yet-effective armor for humans.  Read More

Blue-rayed limpets cling to a piece of kelp (Photo: Shutterstock)

The humble limpet has been receiving a lot of press lately, as scientists recently determined that the material from which its teeth are made is officially the world's strongest natural material. Now, an MIT/Harvard study suggests that a specific type of limpet's shell may hold the key to transparent displays that require no internal light source.  Read More

This year's BGDC tasks entrants with developing a biomimetic design that solves an importa...

Previously only open to students, this year's challenge from the Biomimicry Institute is open to professionals for the first time. This year, entrants are tasked with tasked with developing a biomimetic design that solves an important food system challenge.  Read More

The octopus-inspired device, inflated and ready to go

When you inflate a balloon and then release it without tying the valve shut, it certainly shoots away quickly. Octopi utilize the same basic principle, although they suck in and then rapidly expel water. An international team of scientists have now replicated that system in a soft-bodied miniature underwater vehicle, which could pave the way for very quickly-accelerating full-size submersibles.  Read More

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