Photokina 2014 highlights

Biomimicry

A blind cave fish, that gets around underwater just fine (Photo: Frank Vassen)

Ever wonder how fish can find their way around so easily in murky water? Well, most of them use something called their lateral line – a row of hair cells down either side of their body that detect changes in water pressure caused by movement, or by water flowing around objects. Now, scientists from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and MIT have copied the lateral lines of the blind cave fish, in a man-made system designed to allow autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to navigate more accurately and efficiently.  Read More

Scientists have created a mussel-inspired gel, which may ultimately save human lives  (Pho...

Mussels have an amazing ability to cling to rocks, even when buffeted by large waves and ocean debris on a daily basis. Now, scientists have created a bioadhesive gel inspired by those mussels, that could potentially be used to reinforce weakened blood vessels.  Read More

Quills may be good for more than just protecting porcupines (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you’ve known a dog that’s been quilled by a porcupine, then you’ll know that while those quills go in all-too-easily, it’s very difficult to pull them out. As part of a new research project, however, a team of scientists are looking at replicating those very characteristics in things like hypodermic needles and surgical adhesives. It turns out that what’s a bane to overly-inquisitive dogs may be a boon to medical technology.  Read More

The internal structure of cork (above) has inspired the creation of three-dimensional grap...

Imagine how limiting it would be if steel, wood or plastic only existed in the form of thin sheets. Well, that’s been the case so far when it comes to graphene. While its incredible strength and high conductivity make it very useful in things like semiconductors, batteries and solar cells, there’s no doubt that it would be even more useful if it could be produced in three-dimensional blocks. Scientists at Australia’s Monash University have now managed to do just that – by copying the structure of cork.  Read More

Who wouldn't want to wear clothing inspired by these guys?

Hagfish are super-slimy eel-like fish that live on the sea floor, where they feed on the carcasses of other sea creatures. Before you start disliking them too much, however, take note – synthetic fabrics of the future may be inspired by their slime.  Read More

Scientists have created lenses that refract light in the same fashion as the lens in the h...

Although many people may think that the lenses in our eyes are just like those found in cameras, there is in fact one key difference between the two – while man-made lenses have just a single index of refraction, meaning that they only bend light in one direction, our natural lenses refract light by varying degrees. This is why artificial implanted lenses, such as those used to treat cataracts, can create visual distortions. A new technology, however, now allows for the fabrication of lenses that work just like the ones in our eyes.  Read More

A male Giant Blue Morpho (Photo: Jo McCulty, courtesy of Ohio State University)

Butterfly wings cannot be very far behind geckos' toes so far as sources of inspiration for biomimicry research goes. Various properties of the wings of lepidopterans have triggered research into banknote forgery prevention, light reflection and solar cells. New research from Ohio State University suggests the delicate membranes may hold clues to dirt-resistance surfaces.  Read More

The TechJect Dragonfly fits in the palm of a hand

Given their impressive flight capabilities, it’s not surprising to see researchers turning to the world of flying insects for inspiration when developing new kinds of micro UAVs. With their ability to both fly at high speeds and hover, the dragonfly would seem an obvious candidate for biomimicry. But with the exception of the DelFly, we hadn’t seen many attempts to model a micro UAV on the dragonfly’s four wing design. That could be changing with a multi-disciplinary team from Georgia Tech having developed a robotic four-winged ornithopter called the TechJect Dragonfly that fits in the palm of a hand and combines the flight capabilities of a quadricopter, helicopter and fixed wing aircraft in one.  Read More

Harvard researchers are developing a feedback controller that should allow the Robobee to ...

Harvard researchers are getting closer to their goal of developing a controllable micro air vehicle called the Robobee. The tiny robot was already capable of taking off under its own power, but until now it was completely out of control. By adding two control actuators beneath its wings, the robot can be programmed to pitch and roll.  Read More

A conceptual rendering of the completed naro - tartaruga robot

Well, we shouldn’t be surprised. Scientists have created swimming robotic versions of the cow-nosed ray, the jellyfish, the sunfish, the tuna, and just the generic “fish,” so why not the sea turtle? That’s what a group of scientists from the ETH Zurich research group are in the process of doing, and they’ve named it naro - tartaruga (the original naro was another robotic tuna). As it turns out, a couple of the sea turtle’s natural features make for a pretty good robot.  Read More

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