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Biomimetics - optical fiber sponge

  1. Jan 22, 2004 #1


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    Staff: Mentor

    I thought this was interesting. Anyone here into biomimetics that has additional examples they can share? (see link for full article)

    Bell Labs scientists find novel optical fibers in deep-sea sponges
    Scientists from Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs have found that a deep-sea sponge contains optical fiber that is remarkably similar to the optical fiber found in today's state-of-the-art telecommunications networks. The deep-sea sponge's glass fiber, which developed through the course of evolution, may possess certain technological advantages over industrial optical fiber, the scientists report in the Aug. 21 issue of the journal Nature.

    The study of biomimetics at Bell Labs is part of the quest to find better materials for technology and industry, and has proved remarkably fruitful. Two years ago, Aizenberg and her collaborators made the surprising discovery that thousands of chalk-like calcite crystals spread throughout the exoskeletons of brittlestars, starfish-like marine invertebrates, collectively form an unusual kind of compound eye for the animals. The brittlestar's calcite microlenses expertly compensate for birefringence and spherical aberration, two common types of distortions in lenses. This led the Bell Labs scientists to attempt to mimic nature's success and design crystals based on the brittlestar model, with the ultimate goal of building complex arrays of microlenses similar to the brittlestar's own lenses.

    Last edited: Jan 22, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2004 #2
    wow what an interesting link. I bet that's a pretty hot field to be in. I remember reading about this mussel that makes the world's best underwater adhesive from a mix of proteins, called byssus. Nothing humans have manufactured even comes close to it.

    And they swam and they swam right over the dam.
  4. Jan 24, 2004 #3


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    The things that we are finding that already exist in nature are truly remarkable. I would love to go into this field.
  5. Jan 24, 2004 #4
    That’s great, things like that don’t stop to impress me … they occur on any level of structure or functioning! How many times I sad, hey we invented the same thing (did we ? :)). I think that plants and “lower” organisms are much more interesting on that field, because they don’t use the brains like animals or specifically mammals for some simple or complicated actions; they more use great engineering and physics (e.g. if you’re hungry you’ll just run to food execute algorithm waste lot’s of energy and take a lot of it, if it’s storm, execute storm.cpp run to the cave, if you want to reproduce catch your mate, compile, build and execute sex.cpp, and that’s it….but if you’re a plant or a sponge it wont work that way).

    It’s so obvious in fields like are civil and mechanical engineering (just take a look on organization of plants cellulose beams and our armature, reinforcement blocks same logic, than transport capillaries safety system of plants and usage of Bernoulli’s equation….), moving and flying mechanisms (gad fly, flies faster than 1000km/h)…

    I’m mad on my self because I can’t remember some great examples right now, these above sounds lame against same of my favorite, but again how can a brains work early in the morning after the party, and 3km road to home walked on minus ten :)
  6. Jan 25, 2004 #5


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    Eagleone, please try to find them, I would love to see them!
  7. Jan 25, 2004 #6


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    If you're referring to the botfly, it's been shown to be a measurement error (to put it politely); they don't fly all that fast after all.

    Spider silk, several kinds; one is stronger and more flexible per unit of weight than any man-made fibre.

    IIRC, there is also a (desert?) plant which survived by living underground. How did it get light to its chloroplasts? A modified root that is, in effect, an optical fibre.

    Moths which can detect pheneromes in concentrations far below the threshhold of our best equipment.

    A bacterium which can withstand intense ionizing radiation - DNA repair mechanisms?

    'Neural networks' - computers designed to mimic - in hardware or software - some of the processing which occurs in mammalian brains. Has found application in a wide range of industries, for many different tasks.
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