Speaking about Biomimicry at my alma mater

I’m currently back in Taiwan for holidays. This past Tuesday (12/16), I was invited to speak at the Department of Applied Chemistry, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan – where I got my bachelor’s degree. I was there to share my experience in Biomimicry to a group of 60-ish masters students in their “Polymer Physics” class. My talk was not tailored to fit the theme of the class, but rather a broad discussion about Biomimicry that planted some seeds in their minds that may grow in the future. It turned out many students came to me with questions after the talk, and the hosting professor told me that one of his students, who is still deciding his research topic, approached him and expressed interest in doing something related to Biomimicry. So, I guess I succeeded in my mission overall!

During my talk, I shared one case study that I think is an excellent example of deep Biomimicry. Two teams from different universities developed very similar technologies, LiquiGlide from MIT and SLIPS from Harvard. Both technologies are modeled after the pitcher plant as shown in the video below.

The technologies are extremely low friction and slippery surfaces, which can repel liquid in a similar fashion as conventional super hydro/oleo/omniphobic surfaces (lotus effects), but are much more resilient to physical stress, deformation and defects compared to lotus effects. You can see them in action in the videos below.

For me, this case study is a good example for deep Biomimicry because it satisfied the following criteria:

  1. Non-toxic (FDA-approved material, you can even eat it without worrying about any adverse affects.)
  2. Easy to manufacture (Low production cost)
  3. Solves a fundamental problem with broad and diverse applications.
  4. Material properties can be fine tuned to meet the performance that clients/customers need
  5. The solution increases efficiency and decreases waste

So, what’s your favorite Biomimicry case study and why? Please share in the comments below.

Thank you very much & happy holidays!!!!

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