Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nanotechnology + Biomimicry

 While doing a research about artificial photosynthesis, I was able to find a lot more examples about how nanotechnology can duplicate abilities of creatures that are believed to be achieved only in bio-organisms. By building up molecular structures of various organisms, nanotechnology can artificially recreate many useful abilities that natural creatures have.

 One example is creating anti bacterial surface by mimicking shark's skin.
Sharks can live in the ocean without having problematic algae and bacteria on them by having rough skin surface that can deflect accumulation of biofilm. Scientists were able to reproduce the nano-scale patterns on the sharks skin so that the surface could be used in industries such as pipelines, submarines and other submerged infrastructures and technologies. Also, a company called Sharklet Technologies Inc. has implemented this nano pattern onto railings and door handles in airports and hospitals to reduce bacterial colonization.

1 - shark skin

 Another example is to make water-repellent surface using the lotus plants' texture. The plants' leaves are superhydrophobic by having systematically arranged, water repellent and nano-sized wax crystals on the surface. This structure makes the lotus leaf extremely non-wettable, and the property regenerated by nanotechnology allows human beings to make walls of houses that repel dirt and grimes and easy to clean.

The lotus plant (Nelumbo nucifera) 

 Furthermore, the nanotechnology is used to create new material by mimicking the molecular structure found in seashells and pearls, University of Michigan scientists made a new type of plastic that’s stronger than steel but lighter and even transparent. They’re calling it plastic steel. A robotic machine dips a glass into a glue like polymer solution and then into a liquid that was a dispersion of clay nano sheets. 300 sheets like this create material as thick as a single sheet of plastic wrap. The practical uses for a light super strong material like this are huge. This plastic steel can be manufactured and used to create stronger and lighter armor for soldiers and the police. It may also have applications in biomedical sensors and valves.

Reference articles :

"Nature's Nanotechnology, Bio-mimicry, and Making the Superpowers of Your Dreams a Reality." Sustainable Nano. N.p., 03 Dec. 2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.
"Nanotechnology." Nanotechnology. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.
"Seashell Strength Inspires Stress Tests." Seashell Strength Inspires Stress Tests. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.
"Sharks Have Tough Skin Worthy of Biomimicry." Guardian Liberty Voice. N.p., 18 Aug. 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2016. <>.

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