Category Archives: shape

porcupines inspire for medical applications and wound healing

crop North American porcupines are well known for their unusual defense. An adult is coated with perhaps 30,000 needle-like hairs. An unfortunate dog that gets too close may find its nose resembling a pin cushion. Furthermore, the needles are not easy to remove. They are coated with microscopic, flexible plate-like barbs x1944__560x420_natural-quill-digital-photo-and-sem_jpg_pagespeed_ic_39VRY2tUR-.jpg.w180h102which make penetration relatively easy, but extraction requires a strong and painful pull.

 

Technical application:

surgical applications

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stegosaurus plates for innovative wind-turbines

dinotail stegosaurusThousands of wind turbines have been installed worldwide in recent years for the production of clean electric energy. Efforts continue to make the large turbines efficient and quiet. One successful modification of existing turbine blades is inspired by the stegosaur.

 

Technical application:

improve fluid-turbines

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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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flexible eye lens focused by a fluid

Fish_Eye The lens in our eye has a special designed feature called accommodation. That is, the lens changes shape, curvature, or focal length to bring images into focus. When we look at a far distant object the lens becomes thinner. For nearby objects the lens thickens and becomes rounder for clear vision. The flexibility is possible because tFocus_in_an_eye.jpghe lens is somewhat jellylike. Ciliary muscles around the edge of the lens control its shape. These muscles can become fatigued, and they recover when eyes are closed.

Technical application:

optical lens technology

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Intestine – Fuel Tank

ooThis is an unusual example of practical designs found in nature. Automobiles have several new options for fuel including batteries, hydrogen gas, and natural gas. Natural gas is especially attractive because it is in good supply in the U.S., and emits only half the carbon dioxide of conventional fossil fuel. However, one challenge is to carry enough natural gas on board the vehicle for practical driving. Large, high pressure cylinders are expensive, bulky, and somewhat hazardous.

Technical application:

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bio-inspired spring to reach your tall targets

Cucumber_Image2_605.jpg.w300h171 CucumberVine3.jpg.w300h452It has long been known that many climbing plants produce unusual tendrils for grasping and climbing. When stretched tightly, the spiral-shaped fibers do not unwind to a flat ribbon like a typical spring shape such as a telephone cord. Instead, when stretched, sections of the fiber coil further in two opposite directions, tightening and strengthening the fiber.  This allows the plant to pull itself upward toward sunlight by grasping onto a branch or trellis.

 

Technical application:

machinery, robotics, and biomedicine

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Leave inspire for more flexible robots, grabbers and operation tools

Many plant blossoms open and close on a daily schedule and slowly follow the sun across the sky. Other plants display more vigorous behavior. Mimosa_pudica_leaf.jpg.w300h262The small leaves fold inward in just seconds and then slowly reopen. The active plant grows worldwide and the Latin term pudica  means shy, bashful, or shrinking. Other common names include sensitive plant or humble plant. The movement can be seen under the plant name in Wikipedia.

Technical application:

drilling applications, self healing, operations in the human body

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The design of trees helps to reduce plastic waste

whitebarkpineMany trees do not have vertical capillary tubes for transporting water upward. Instead, a plastic-water-bottlespiral network of capillaries and fibers extend the entire length of the tree. This helical geometry strengthens the tree, allowing a greater flexibility or bending motion in high wind or during heavy weight loads. The spiral pattern is sometimes noticed on the surface of dead trees which have lost their bark.

 

Technical application:

less material useage

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beaver teeths for sharp cutting-tools

beaver.jpgGerman engineers have applied the tooth sharpening ability of rodents to cutting tools.

Beavers, rats, rabbits and similar rodents depend on their teeth for survival. They are experts at gnawing, and their teeth are designed with a self-sharpening ability. Unlike our own, roSaw_bladedent teeth are covered with enamel on only the front side. Softer dentine is exposed on the back of the front teeth. As the rodent chews and wears down its teeth, it alternates grinding its lower incisors against either the front or the back of the upper incisors. As a result, the hard enamel slowly wears down the softer dentine and the teeth remain sharp. The teeth also continue to grow from the root, maintaining their length. The animals must continue to gnaw or their teeth will outgrow their mouth.

Technical application:

self shaping tools

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Use algae to create meachanical nano gears

diatom1 diatom2Diatoms are microscopic, single-celled algae. They are typically a few microns in diameter, ten times smaller than the width of a human hair. There are many thousands of distinct diatom species known, in both plant and animal varieties. They exist in countless numbers in the sea and are the base of many food webs.

 

Technical application:

unexpected high

 

 

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