Biomimetics

Module aims

Mankind has always mimicked nature. Fishing nets, airplane wings, sonar, computer viruses and artificial intelligence are just a few of a long list of examples where nature has inspired technological applications but many functional principles developed during evolution still remain to be discovered. Understanding these principles may help scientists and engineers to solve outstanding technological problems.

Biomimetics is a new interdisciplinary field that is quickly growing and seeks to explore, appreciate, and make use of nature's solutions at different organizational scales ranging from molecular to systems levels. The aim of this course is to offer an introduction into biomimetics as an inspiration for novel emerging technologies.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module you will be able to: 
  • Describe the scope of biomimetics
  • Discuss the specific material described in the Syllabus
  • Compare approaches of nature and engineering to develop optimal and robust designs
  • Identify constraints in natural and engineering design
  • Judge if a natural solution is the optimal solution
  • Explain how both biological and engineering problems can be understood at different levels of organization: function (or purpose), algorithm, and implementation. 
  • Appraise scientific papers in the field of biomimetics
  • Evaluate complex data, draw conclusions and communicate these conclusions clearly to others

Module syllabus

Introduction into biomimetics. Information and molecular biomimetics. Biomimetic materials, biological and bio-inspired adhesives. Senses and sensors: audio, electric field detection in nature and technological applications; structural colour and its appliucations, natural and computer vision, parallels between neuroscience and AI.

Pre-requisites

Basic mathematical skills and physical understanding assumed. Students need to be familiar with simple energy methods.

Teaching methods

Lectures: 18 hours
Study groups: 8 hours

Assessments

Examinations:
●  None

Courseworks:
●  Presentation: ; 20% weighting; journal club presentation worth 20% (for credit)
●  Poster: Group poster & proposal; 80% weighting