There is quite some research done here at UCSB that involves biomimetic.
Dan Morse looks at biomimeralization. Aabalone shells for example are remarkably strong and the calcium (mineral) is deposited by the animal in a precision of nanoscale fabrication, controlled in a way we humans cannot do. Understanding how nature does this and using these mechanisms researchers will be able to develop new strategies for the synthesis of high-performance, nanostructured composite materials.Another example is the controlled polymerization of silica. Scientists need extreme conditions (either high temperature, high pressure or extreme pH) to do this reaction while nature can do many reactions at ambient temperature, normal pressure and neutral pH.
Dan Morse's group is looking at a sponge that is able to build glass needles inside its body for protection. The needles are made of silica (glass) and are synthesized under very mild conditions.
Another professor here at UCSB is Herbert Waite who is learning from mussels how to develop a "super glue" that also works under water."It is self-evident that man-made adhesives do not stick very well to wet surfaces.Marine organisms such as barnacles, limpets, kelps, and mussels, however, produce glues that do very well underwater."
Mussels such as Mytilus attach themselves to surfaces by making a bundle of threads collectively referred to as the byssus. Byssal threads are permanent holdfasts and extraordinary biomolecular materials; they are strong, rapidly made, durable and adhere to a wide variety of surfaces including glass, metal, paraffin and bone.
You can learn more about his research by going to:
Lately his group is also looking at a marine bloodworm whose jaws exhibit an extraordinary resistance to abrasion. You can read more about that in this article:
All this research has not yet let to the development of new materials. It takes a long time to do this, since researchers first have to understand how nature does it and then try to imitate it. But one day we might use a glue that came from research that was done here at UCSB.
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