Biomimetics: lessons from nature–an overview
Nature has developed materials, objects and processes that function from the macroscale to the nanoscale. These have gone through evolution over 3.8 Gyr. The emerging field of biomimetics allows one to mimic biology or nature to develop nanomaterials, nanodevices and processes. Properties of biological materials and surfaces result from a complex interplay between surface morphology and physical and chemical properties. Hierarchical structures with dimensions of features ranging from the macroscale to the nanoscale are extremely common in nature to provide properties of interest. Molecular-scale devices, superhydrophobicity, self-cleaning, drag reduction in fluid flow, energy conversion and conservation, high adhesion, reversible adhesion, aerodynamic lift, materials and fibres with high mechanical strength, biological self-assembly, antireflection, structural coloration, thermal insulation, self-healing and sensory-aid mechanisms are some of the examples found in nature that are of commercial interest. This paper provides a broad overview of the various objects and processes of interest found in nature and applications under development or available in the marketplace.