Chemistry In the natural world differs to our technological problem solving approach. Whereas we use a large variety of elements, in nature the lighter elements (such as Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Hydrogen, Calcium, Phosphorous, Sulfur, Silicon... etc). With many heavy elements on the endangered list, we have seen an increase in R&D into bioinspired chemistry in the past decade.
Check out these interesting case studies below, or drop us a message if you are interested in collaborating on bioinspired chemistry R&D.
Inspired by the Pitcher Plant, Harvard University managed to create a material that repels just about any type of liquid, including blood and oil, and does so even while it is exposed to high pressure or freezing temperatures. Since it is carnivorous by nature, the ability to have a virtually frictionless surface inside its cupped leaf is crucial for its ability to capture insects or small frogs. For more information on Slips Technologies.
The Lotus Flower's micro-rough surface naturally repels dust and dirt particles, keeping its petals clean. The flower is covered in a sea of tiny nail-like protuberances that can repel specks of dust. When water rolls over a lotus leaf, it collects anything on the surface, leaving a clean and healthy leaf behind.
Ispo spent four years researching this phenomenon and has developed a paint with similar properties. The micro-rough surface of the paint pushes away dust and dirt, minimising the need for cleaning.
The Gecko has the amazing ability to stick to surfaces. The toes of a gecko are divided into nanoscale hair-like structures. When a gecko places its foot on the wall and curls its toes, these nanoscale structures interact with the wall on the atomic level. The forces (van-der-waals forces) between the nano-structured hairs of the gecko foot and the atoms of the wall are strong enough to hold up the gecko.
Scientists at UMassAmherst have developed materials that use gecko-like nano-structures for draping adhesion. Draping adhesion is created with materials that can drape to create conformal contact with a surface while still maintaining high, elastic stiffness in directions where forces will be applied.