Category Archives: complex structure

Human climbing with efficiently scaled gecko-inspired dry adhesives

spidermanWe present a mechanical concept which improves upon the gecko’s non-uniform load-sharing and results in a nearly even load distribution over multiple patches of gecko-inspired adhesive.

Since the discovery of the mechanism of adhesion in geckos, many synthetic dry adhesives have been developed with desirable gecko-like properties such as reusability, directionality, self-cleaning ability, rough surface adhesion and high adhesive stress. However, fully exploiting these adhesives in practical applications at different length scales requires efficient scaling (i.e. with little loss in adhesion as area grows). Just as natural gecko adhesives have been used as a benchmark for synthetic materials, so can gecko adhesion systems provide a baseline for scaling efficiency.

Technical application:

climb buildings, for cleaning a ships body

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gecko feet sticks by the force of electricity

gecko2 geckoElectronic circuits typically constructed on very thin silicon surfaces. Now, suppose that we want to transfer such a circuit unto a non-flat surface such as cloth or leather. Circuits are fragile and any surface contact during movement can be destructive. Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois turned to the gecko lizard for the solution. Geckos are masters at sticking and then freeing their feet as they walk across a ceiling. The gecko foot has countless micro-size filaments which adhere to most surfaces by flexible, reversible molecular adhesion.

Technical application:

climb, stick to walls or on street

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the mystical movement of snakes

Red_milk_snake.JPG.w300h233Snakes have scales on their belly skin which help them move about. On a flat surface, the body weight is continuously redistributed for maximum friction, and the scales provide grip. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have made detailed studies of the movement of the milk snake. The result, which they call terrestrial lateral undulation, reveals complex motion.

Technical application:

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Thorny Devil Lizard as Water Collector

Moloch_cc03.jpg.w300h199 moloch2.jpg.w300h160The thorny devil lizard, or thorny dragon, lives in the desert areas of central Australia. This lizard, just 4-6 inches long, looks ferocious with a body completely covered with thorny spines. Two additional large pointed scales on its head resemble curved horns.

How does this animal survive in a dry land where the temperature reaches 122⁰F (50⁰ C)?

Technical application:

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tree frog climb wet and dirty surfaces as well as upside down surfaces without falling

TreeFrog_Laubfrosch_cropped.jpg.w300h400Here is an activity to try with a length of adhesive tape. Press the tape against a dusty surface several times. As expected, the tape quickly loses its holding strength as dust particles collect and coat the sticky side. In contrast, consider tree frogs which thrive in dusty, wet, or muddy surroundings. Yet they cling securely to branches and leaves, even hanging upside down. How are they able to hold on without falling?

Technical application:

holding applications

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early bionic inspiration: the study of leg bones leads to the Eiffel Tower

EiffelAn international exhibition took place in Paris in 1889, the early counterpart of today’s World’s Fairs. During the planning stage there was competition between architects for new structures to commemorate the grand event. One French engineer, Gustave (Gustavo) Eiffel (1832-1923), went to an unusual source for new design ideas. He reviewed the work of anatomist Herman von Meyer.1 In the 1850s, Meyer had studied the human femur, or thighbone, which connects to the hip.

Technical application:

mesh structures

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will our lungs help to reduce carbon dioxid emissions on our planet?

lungsOur hard-working lungs clearly show intelligent planning. Within our lungs, countless tiny air sacks called alveoli exchange gases from the bloodstream, supplying fresh oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. The component membranes which allow separation and passage of the gases are about one thousand times thinner than a printed period. The total gas exchange area adds up to at least 70 time an adult’s total body surface area, or the size of a volleyball court. Specialized chemicals, especially carbonic anhydrase, help carry on the continuous gas exchange process.

Technical application:


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our brain inspires for supercomputers

Computers have come a long way but they still primitive compared with our own brainpower. Our brains can handle much more information and processing than any supercomputer yet developed. The brain is so far superior to current braincomputers that scientists seek ways to mimic its “wiring” in modern computers.


Technical application:


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horestail as logarithm-chart

horestailPerhaps you recall seeing a reed-like plant growing near a pond or wetland. The plant stem has several telescoping sections which can be pulled apart and reconnected.  It is commonly called horsetail, snake grass, or puzzlegrass. Named Equisetum, this is the only living member of a family of plants that reproduce by spores instead of seeds. The horsetail is called a living fossil with similar fossils in Paleozoic rock layers dated at 100 million years old. In truth, all plants were created on Day 3 of the Creation Week just thousands of years ago.

Technical application:

logarithm chart

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