“We have had the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the plastic age…. The future is the designed material age.”
Biomimicry (Greek bios = life and mimesis = imitation), is a new science that studies nature’s models, then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to design products and processes. The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers.
“The conscious emulation of life's genius is a survival strategy for the human race, a path to a sustainable future. The more our world looks and functions like the natural world, the more likely we are to endure on this home that is ours, but not ours alone.”
Orb Weaver Spider Silk
Mimicking the material used by spiders to create webs could provide a way to manufacture fiber without using high heat, high pressure, or toxic chemicals. The spider’s fiber is stronger and more resilient than anything on the market today. This new renewable material could be used in parachute wires, suspension bridge cables, sutures, protective clothing, etc.
Abalone shells with mother of pearl coating have a crystalline coating, which self assembles in perfect precision and is more resilient than anything produced by humans.
Mimicking abalone shells could revolutionize and inspire biologically safe hard coatings that need to be lightweight but fracture resistant.
Blue mussel adhesive sets underwater and doesn't need a primer, an initiator, or a catalyst to work. It could revolutionize paints and coatings, and enable surgeons to operate without sutures.
The blue mussel byssus is the material that attaches the mussel to a rock. This sealant eventually degrades after its mission is finished. This could inspire an alternative to plastics, e.g., a time-release coating for disposable biobased cups and cutlery which would eventually degrade, allowing the degradable material underneath to be composted.