Biomimetics/Biomimicry: State of the Art

It has been ten years since I first read Janine’s book and I am pleased to see that the field of Biomimicry, Biomimetics—or whatever you want to call it—continues to grow!  I am especially thrilled that there has been such a meaningful adoption of such principles in the basic and applied sciences.  While technology trends such as “nanotechnology” have waxed and waned over a matter of years, I believe biologically inspired scientific research and engineering will continue to gain influence because it is innately rooted in our values as human beings and inextricably linked to our basic pursuit of creativity.

I had the pleasure of spending a few hours yesterday with my friend Mehmet Sarikaya, the University of Washington Professor of materials science whose groundbreaking work has helped pioneer the growing field.  For years he has been discovering and teaching us about the fundamental mechanisms responsible for some of nature’s most amazing materials.  Among other things, he is responsible for introducing the key enabling paradigm called “molecular biomimetics”. We had a lively discussion around his latest discoveries in proteins and their role in directing the formation of natural materials.  I was surprised to learn that he has successfully identified fundamental mechanisms responsible for molecular communication during natural materialization that lead to the highly desirable hierarchical architectures that make these materials so valuable.

Professor Sarikaya’s work is enabling a wide range of practical applications particularly in the medical field such as targeted assembly of enzymes, molecular scaffolds for tissue regeneration, controlled materialization and novel organic/inorganic surface coatings.  And all this is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you Google biomimetics or biomimicry now, you will find a plethora of activities going on around the world including articles in prestigious scientific journals and examples of applications in almost every field.

Image courtesy of M. Sarikaya, Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA