Bionics: When animals have the copyright

The men has always tried imitate nature's designs, since they frequently represent optimal solutions to many problems (for example, the hexagonal cells of bees are those that cover the plane with a minimum amount of wax).

Formerly, many nature designs could not be copied, because living beings use materials that we do not have or because their Energy sources they are more efficient than ours (thus the attempt to fly like birds failed). The humans We have opted for metals as the basis for many of our structures that need strength and rigidity, but organisms opt for composite materials, built at the nano-scale, which perform even better the functions of metals (for example, spider silk, formed for protein, it is stronger than steel). The recent and effervescent discipline of nanotechnology is already able to build some of these complex materials, endowed with fantastic properties.

One application for which materials science is finding much inspiration in living things is armor construction. Many animals They have been exposed hundreds of millions of years to increasingly formidable weapon predators, and have therefore built shells and carapaces of amazing mechanical capabilities.

The mollusks they can teach us a lot in this regard. The abalone, a sea snail that eats algae in rocky substrates, has a very strong pearly shell, which is made of 95% calcium carbonate tiles and 5% of an adhesive protein.. The highly ordered structure created by the mollusk It is the toughest tile arrangement theoretically possible and it is being studied to copy its design for bulletproof armor.

The adhesive protein it is strong enough to hold the various layers together, but weak enough to allow the layers to slide off, absorbing the energy of a strong blow. These animals quickly fill the cracks that form in their shells due to impacts.

The robust shell of another snail, Crysomallon squamiferum, which lives 2,400 m deep in underwater hot springs, could inspire new materials for super-resistant armor. The thin shell of this species has a three-layered structure and has a series of characteristics that differentiate it from those of other gastropods. Each layer is made up of different materials that give you various benefits. The outer part is made up of iron sulfide particles, the middle part is made of organic material and the inner part is a calcified layer. These materials allow it to resist penetration and mitigate fractures if they do occur..

Another artist who combines strength and lightness is the toucan, whose beak both long and thick caught the attention of the scientists. The pick is optimized to an astonishing degree to achieve high strength and very low weight. The secret is an unusual biocomposite. The interior of the peak is formed by a "foam ”Rigid, made of bone fibers and drum-like membranes sandwiched between the outer layers of keratin, the protein that makes up nails, hair, and horns. The biocomposite of bird could inspire the design of ultralight aircraft and vehicle components, based on synthetic foams made from metals and polymers.

A way of reduce environmental impact It could be him use of shark skin on airplanes. The scientists found that these fish They swim faster than their body shape and driving force would allow. The key to the unknown is found in a few very thin longitudinal lines on the fish's skin that channel the current in the contact layer, reducing frictional resistance. The American company 3M developed Riblet, a thin film with a fine serrated profile similar to that of the sharks, with which various parts of a passenger plane were covered. For a year, resistance tests were carried out on the film, verifying that it reduced frictional resistance by six to eight percent. So that a significant fuel savings on an airplane long distance provided with this shark skin.

The adhesives industry is experiencing a real revolution thanks to the mussels. A mussel resists the hard onslaught of the waves, tightly attached to its rock by means of thin filaments that end in small adhesive plates. The materials they use are inspiring a new generation of glues with a huge range of potential applications.

Yet mussel It takes him only 5 minutes to make the adhesive plate, and he uses about 20 or more such plates to anchor himself. In one night it can be perfectly stabilized. The formation of the sticky substance used by the mussel requires iron, a metal that has never previously been found in a mussel. similar biological function.

Bioadhesives are almost all based on protein. Its initial appearance, before drying, is that of a jelly. When iron is added, the proteins connect to each other and the material hardens. They can thus stick to almost any surface, including Teflon, the substance that prevents food from sticking to pans. It stands out above all the green mussel (Perna viridis), a New Zealand species that is frequently served in restaurants and is known for its great ability to adhere to ship hulls.

Now, a study reveals in detail its powerful adherent mechanism. The adhesives previously developed from those of other mussels are based on proteins that contain an amino acid called Dopa, But the chemistry of the green mussel's adhesive mechanism is much more complex and is based on an elaborate modification of the amino acid tryptophan in the adhesive protein. This protein can help to form strong bonds on damp surfaces, such as bones and teeth, or to seal cracks in the ship hulls.

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  • What relationship does a crustacean have with the DVD?

What relationship does a crustacean have with the DVD?

Apparently none, but the eyes of mantis shrimp, or galleys, could inspire the next generation of DVDs and CDs. And it is that these crustaceans have the most complex vision systems in the animal kingdom, being capable of see in twelve colors (humans see only in three) and being able to distinguish different polarizations of light (the direction of oscillation in light waves). Scientists have imitated the eyes of galleys to improve the polarization optics of various devices, such as wave sheets, used to change the polarization of light. This could benefit future data storage systems, such as CDs Y DVDs and data projectors.

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