True Biomimetics

Adam Clare
FSC2330, Hybrid


Nature solves problems in an elegant fashion. Often these solutions are badly emulated by designers via biomimicry which draws upon the solutions obtained by nature and applies these to engineering problems. This has served to create an array of fantastic designs which exceed what may be achieved through conventional design approaches. Common place examples include the cooling of microelectronics inspired by termite nest architecture or the stay clean surfaces which exploit the lotus leaf effect.

However, we tend to overlook the system level when mimicking what we see in nature. In favour of copying the elements (or unit cells) of a solution we disregard the population effects and lose sight of emergent behaviours. We cannot see the wood for the trees.

It is common in nature to discover stochasticity at all length scales within a single organism or across a population. This was observed by Sir Francis Galton who sought to measure the randomness and ascribe values to the variation which is self-evident. From organism-to-organism and from unit cell-to-unit cell randomness is always found. How can this be exploited for the purpose of improving design in all domains? How can we create tools which allow the designer to create systems which are not too uniform and not too random?

In this talk we will explore ‘true’ biomimetics in which attempts are made to emulate not just naturally occurring morphology but also the ‘random nature’ of the systems we see. Recent work will be presented which showcases methods to create more realistic shark skin for hydrodynamic performance and the utilisation of true biomimetics to create superior aerospace engineering components. This approach is presented as an opportunity for all designers to consider how better performing and more resilient solutions can be created across disciplines.

Event directions

DFP Classroom 2300A (2nd Floor), Forestry Science Centre, 2424 Main Mall.

Once you are inside the Forestry Science building, walk to the rear (South-East) of the building and pass through the large open study area then up the stairs to the 2nd floor student lounge (“Treetop”) area. Turn left, pass through a double door and the room 2300A is the first on the right.