A group of Swedish researchers are looking beyond plants for living models upon which to base their solar harvesting tech, turning instead to the photovoltaic prowess of the jellyfish. Tapping a protein in the jellyfish Aequorea victoria known as green fluorescent protein (GFP), the team has assembled a device that converts ultraviolet light into free electrons using a drop of green goo.
Plants are extremely efficient converters of light into energy, more or less setting the bar for researchers creating photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity. As such, researchers are constantly trying to mimic the tricks that millions of years of evolution and development have taught to plant biology. Now, a team of MIT scientists believe they've done it, creating a synthetic, self-assembling chloroplast that can be broken down and reassembled repeatedly, restoring solar cells that are damaged by the sun.
Researchers at GE Global Research are working with DARPA funding to tap butterfly tech to make a new breed of sensors that could detect everything from explosives, to chemical attacks, to disease biomarkers on a person's breath.
University of Washington and Stanford researchers have created what could become a model for future microbots: a one-inch microchip sporting 512 thermal-powered "feet" that can carry more than seven times its own weight while moving in any direction.
Schwarzenegger's Terminator memorably thrashed and crawled onward towards its victims even after its robotic limbs had been mutilated by explosions and crashes. Now, a German research team is trying to bring that ability to the robots of today, looking at how three-legged dogs move in order to design robots that can recover from injury or damage.
A swarm of buzzing dragonfly bots passes overhead. Suddenly, they make a kamakaze dive toward a nearby tree--but wait a minute, instead of crashing and careening to the ground, they're sticking to the tree. Resting, recharging, waiting for orders. All thanks to Mirko Kovac's new system allowing swarming robots to perch on nearly any surface, then take off again.
As elegance in engineering goes, it doesn't get much better: a functioning ornithopter modeled after a swallowtail butterfly. Japanese researchers fashioned their faux swallowtail to mimic the precise flying motion of the real thing, hoping its unique flying motion can inform future aerodynamic designs.
In a breakthrough that could lead to significant advances in materials science and tissue engineering, researchers at the U. of British Colombia have engineered a solid biomaterial that mimics the elasticity of muscle. Using artificial proteins, the team was able to recreate the molecular structure of the protein titin, which plays a vital role in making our muscles the versatile tissues that they are.
Buildings or commercial jetliners could soon get a protective coating of shatter-resistant armor similar to the material lining abalone shells. Finnish researchers have developed the lightweight reinforcement so that people can simply paint it on whatever structure, reports Technology Review.
Biomimicry isn't new, nor are robotic hummingbirds, but the latest 'bot to come out of Chiba University in Japan makes even the DARPA-inspired Nano Air Vehicle -- which is very cool, needless to say -- look like last year's robotics.