In the race to develop new, better performing, cheaper and less polluting materials, more and more researchers are turning to biomimicry. Inspired by natural materials or the functioning of human cells, this is the objective of this research.
Bolt Threads, an American company, launched a cap made of a mixture of wool and artificial spider silk in December, increasing the product’s shelf life while maintaining the softness of the wool.
A researcher at Oxford University has developed a synthetic retina that mimics the functioning of the human retina, and can even surpass its color detection performance.
As a final example, the Harvard University professor’s team has developed a new material (“Shrilk”) from chitin, a molecule found in shells of crustaceans. With the same strength and toughness as aluminum at half the weight, this material holds great promise for many applications.
Despite very good results obtained in the laboratory, in terms of performance, energy requirements or even recycling possibilities, it will still take time to see these materials used on an industrial scale. As Robert Ritchie, Professor of Materials Science at the University of Berkeley, said, “it took decades of development of composite materials” to be used in a Boeing 787 today.
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