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Biomimicry

Biology

Bioelectronic nose sniffs out bacteria in water

Currently, when scientists want to know if bacteria are present in water, they have two main choices. They can take a sample to the lab, where they'll try growing the suspected bacteria in it, and then count the number of resulting colonies to determine the concentration. Or, they can analyze it using expensive lab-based gas chromatography or mass spectrometry equipment. Now, however, researchers from Seoul National University have developed a "bioelectronic nose" that could be used on location, and that is reportedly more sensitive than existing techniques.Read More

Materials

Self-healing bioplastic – just add water

Imagine if things like undersea cables or medical implants could simply heal themselves back together if severed – it would certainly be easier than having to go in and fix them. Well, scientists at Pennsylvania State University are bringing such a possibility closer to reality. They've created a moldable polymer that heals itself when exposed to water – and it's based on squid sucker ring teeth.Read More

Materials

Snake skin-inspired steel could lead to better hard drives

When it comes to human phobias, snakes are frequently found toward the top of the list. But despite the negative reputation, these reptiles make up an important part of our ecosystem while exhibiting some very unique biological aspects. The way snakes move across surfaces is pretty incredible, and researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have figured out how to potentially use that feature to enhance everything from hip prostheses to computer hard disks.Read More

Space

NASA scientists develop gecko-inspired astronaut anchors

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are honing the applications of a gecko-like gripping mechanism in the hope of making life a little less chaotic for those working aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The ever-inventive JPL workers have come up with a series of "astronaut anchors" for use both inside and outside the station, and have even equipped a robot with the tech, opening up the possibility of allowing it to safely operate on the exterior of the space station.Read More

Robotics

Robotic sea lion flippers could propel future submersibles

Unlike most other sea creatures, sea lions use their forelimbs instead of a tail for propulsion. They also leave virtually no wake as they travel through the water. With an eye towards applying this design to human technology, George Washington University professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Megan Leftwich has developed a robotic sea lion flipper.Read More

Robotics

Robotic whiskers may get a feel for navigating in the dark

The whiskers that help rats find their way around dingy sewers has inspired a tactile sensor that could be used for navigating all manner of dark conditions. Scientists have developed a device capable of generating images of obscured environments by monitoring both air and fluid flow, and which could find its way into biomedical applications.Read More

Robotics

Insect-inspired amphibious robot jumps like a water strider

Despite what our science fiction-fueled imaginations love to be entertained with, there is more to the field of modern robotics than colossal combat machines or bionic baristas. Some projects may seem mundane by comparison, yet the results are no less impressive, especially the ones that enlighten through the process. Although it took a few trial and error attempts, scientists have finally created an insect-inspired robot that can jump off of water's surface.Read More

Environment

Synthetic material mimics coral's ocean-cleaning attributes

Humanity's industrial processes have a huge impact on the and, releasing harmful substances such as mercury, arsenic and lead into the water. Chinese researchers are hoping that synthetic coral that mimics the ability of the real thing to collect harmful heavy metals from water could help in the clean up effort, with tests on the effectiveness of the aluminum oxide structure so far showing promising results.Read More

Medical

Mussel-inspired surgical glue shuts down bleeding wounds in 60 seconds

The ability of mussels to stubbornly bind themselves to underwater surfaces has intrigued scientists for years. If this ability could be recreated in the lab, it could lead to new adhesives for all kinds of applications. A team of Korean scientists has now developed a surgical glue inspired by these natural wonders that's claimed to be cheaper, more reliable and incur less scarring than existing solutions.Read More

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