Bionics (also known as biomimetics, biognosis,
biomimicry, or bionical creativity engineering) is the application of biological methods and systems found in natureto the study and design of engineeringsystems and modern technology. The word "bionic" was coined by Jack E. Steelein 1958, possibly originating from the Greek word "βίον", pronounced "bion", meaning "unit of life" and the suffix -ic, meaning "like" or "in the manner of", hence "like life". Some dictionaries, however, explain the word as being formed from "biology" + "electronics".
The transfer of technology between lifeforms and synthetic constructs is, according to proponents of bionic technology, desirable because evolutionary pressure typically forces living organisms, including fauna and flora, to become highly optimized and efficient. A classical example is the development of dirt- and water-repellent paint (coating) from the observation that the surface of the lotus flower plant is practically unsticky for anything (the
Examples of bionics in engineering include the hulls of boats imitating the thick skin of dolphins;
sonar, radar, and medical ultrasoundimaging imitating the echolocationof bats.
In the field of computer science, the study of bionics has produced
artificial neurons, artificial neural networks, and swarm intelligence. Evolutionary computationwas also motivated by bionics ideas but it took the idea further by simulating evolution in silicoand producing well-optimized solutions that had never appeared in nature.
It is estimated by
Julian Vincent, professor of biomimetics at the University of Bathin the UK, that "at present there is only a 10% overlap between biologyand technologyin terms of the mechanisms used".
The name biomimetics was coined by
Otto Schmittin the 1950s. The term bionics was coined by Jack E. Steelein 1958 while working at the "Aeronautics Division House" at Wright-Patterson Air Force Basein Dayton. However, biomimicry or biomimetics is more preferred in technology world in efforts to avoid confusion between the medical term bionics. Coincidentally, Martin Caidin used the word for his 1972 novel Cyborg, which inspired the series The Six Million Dollar Man. Caidin was a long-time aviation industry writer before turning to fiction full time.
Often, the study of bionics emphasizes implementing a function found in nature rather than just imitating biological structures. For example, in computer science,
cyberneticstries to model the feedback and control mechanisms that are inherent in intelligent behavior, while artificial intelligencetries to model the intelligent function regardless of the particular way it can be achieved.
The conscious copying of examples and mechanisms from natural organisms and ecologies is a form of applied
case-based reasoning, treating nature itself as a database of solutions that already work. Proponents argue that the selective pressureplaced on all natural life forms minimizes and removes failures.
Although almost all
engineeringcould be said to be a form of biomimicry, the modern origins of this field are usually attributed to Buckminster Fullerand its later codification as a house or field of study to Janine Benyus.
Roughly, we can distinguish three biological levels in the fauna or flora, after which technology can be modeled:
*Mimicking natural methods of manufacture
*Imitating mechanisms found in nature (
*Studying organizational principles from social behaviour of organisms, such as the flocking behaviour of birds, the foraging behaviour of bees and ants, and the Swarm Intelligence(SI)-based behaviour of a school of fish.
Examples of biomimetics
Velcrois the most famous example of biomimetics. In 1948, the Swiss engineer George de Mestral was cleaning his dog of burrs picked up on a walk when he realized how the hooks of the burrs clung to the fur.
*Cat's eye reflectors were invented by
Percy Shawin 1935 after studying the mechanism of cat eyes. He had found that cats had a system of reflecting cells, known as tapetum lucidum, which was capable of reflecting the tiniest bit of light.
Leonardo da Vinci's flying machines and ships are early examples of drawing from nature in engineering.
*Julian Vincent drew from the study of pinecones when he developed in 2004 "smart" clothing that adapts to changing temperatures. "I wanted a nonliving
systemwhich would respond to changes in moisture by changing shape", he said. "There are several such systems in plants, but most are very small — the pinecone is the largest and therefore the easiest to work on". Pinecones respond to warmer temperatures by opening their scales (to disperse their seeds). The smart fabric does the same thing, opening up when it is warm, and shutting tight when cold.
*"Morphing aircraft wings" that change shape according to the speed and duration of flight were designed in 2004 by biomimetic scientists from
Penn State University. The morphing wings were inspired by different bird species that have differently shaped wings according to the speed at which they fly. In order to change the shape and underlying structure of the aircraft wings, the researchers needed to make the overlying skin also be able to change, which their design does by covering the wings with fish-inspired scales that could slide over each other. In some respects this is a refinement of the swing-wingdesign.
*Some paints and roof tiles have been engineered to be self-cleaning by copying the mechanism from the Nelumbo lotus. [ [http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/09/sto_lotusan_bio.php Nelumbo lotus inspiration for self-cleaning paint] ]
Nanostructuresand physical mechanisms that produce the shining color of butterflywings were reproduced in silicoby Greg Parker, professor of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southamptonand research student Luca Plattnerin the field of photonics, which is electronicsusing photonsas the information carrier instead of electrons.
* The wing structure of the blue
morpho butterflywas studied and the way it reflects light was mimicked to create an RFIDtag that can be read through water and on metal [ [http://www.rfidradio.com/?p=26 RFID Through Water and on Metal with 99.9% Reliability (Episode 015)] , RFID Radio] .
Neuromorphicchips, silicon retinae or cochleae, has wiring that is modelled after real neural networks. "S.a.:" connectivity
*Synthetic or "robotic" vegetation, which aids in conservation and restoration, [ [http://www.ceers.org/ijest/issues/abstract_result.asp?ID=204014 Woodley, M. A. (2005). "Synthetic Vegetation: An Ecosystem Prosthesis", "Int. J. Environ. Sci. Tech," 2:4, 395-398.] ] are machines designed to mimic many of the functions of living
Medical adhesivesinvolving glue and tiny nano-hairsare being developed based on the physical structures found in the feet of geckos.
Specific uses of the term
Bionics is a term which refers to the flow of concepts from
biologyto engineeringand vice versa. Hence, there are two slightly different points of view regarding the meaning of the word.
In medicine, bionics means the replacement or enhancement of organs or other body parts by mechanical versions. Bionic implants differ from mere prostheses by mimicking the original function very closely, or even surpassing it.
Bionics' German equivalent, "Bionik", always adheres to the broader meaning, in that it tries to develop engineering solutions from biological models. This approach is motivated by the fact that biological solutions will usually be optimized by
While the technologies that make bionic implants possible are still in a very early stage, a few bionic items already exist, the best known being the
cochlear implant, a device for deafpeople. By 2004 fully functional artificial hearts were developed. Significant further progress is expected to take place with the advent of nanotechnologies. A well known example of a proposed nanodevice is a respirocyte, an artificial red cell, designed (though not built yet) by Robert Freitas.
Kwabena Boahen from
Ghanawas a professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. During his eight years at Penn, he developed a silicon retinathat was able to process images in the same manner as a living retina. He confirmed the results by comparing the electrical signals from his silicon retina to the electrical signals produced by a salamandereye while the two retinas were looking at the same image.
A political form of biomimcry is
bioregional democracy, wherein political borders conform to natural ecoregionsrather than human cultures or the outcomes of prior conflicts.
Critics of these approaches often argue that
ecological selectionitself is a poor model of minimizing manufacturing complexityor conflict, and that the free marketrelies on conscious cooperation, agreement, and standards as much as on efficiency - more analogous to sexual selection. Charles Darwinhimself contended that both were balanced in natural selection- although his contemporaries often avoided frank talk about sex, or any suggestion that free market success was based on persuasion, not value.
Advocates, especially in the
anti-globalization movement, argue that the mating-like processes of standardization, financing and marketing, are already examples of runaway evolution- rendering a system that appeals to the consumer but which is inefficient at use of energy and raw materials. Biomimicry, they argue, is an effective strategy to restore basic efficiency.
Biomimicry is also the second principle of
In a more specific meaning, it is a creativity technique that tries to use biological prototypes to get ideas for engineering solutions. This approach is motivated by the fact that biological organisms and their organs have been well optimized by
evolution. In chemistry, a biomimetic synthesis is a man-made chemical synthesisinspired by biochemical processes.
Another, more recent meaning of the term "bionics" refers to merging organism and machine. This approach results in a hybrid system combining biological and engineering parts, which can also be referred as a cybernetic organism (
cyborg). Practical realization of this was demonstrated in Kevin Warwick's implant experiments bringing about ultrasoundinput via his own nervous system.
Mercedes-Benzintroduced its Bionic concept car.
List of environment topics
*List of important publications in bionics
* [http://www.thoughtcrew.net/biomimetics.html summary on the use of biomimetics in business]
* [http://www.esa.int/gsp/ACT/bio/index.htm European Space Agency] - Advanced Concepts Team Biomimetics Website
* [http://www.biomimicryinstitute.org Biomimicry Institute]
*Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. 1997.
*Biomimicry for Optimization, Control, and Automation, Springer-Verlag, London, UK, 2005, Kevin M. Passino
* [http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,65642,00.html?tw=wn_story_top5 "Ideas Stolen Right From Nature"] (
*Bionics and Engineering: The Relevance of Biology to Engineering, presented at Society of Women Engineers Convention, Seattle, WA, 1983, Jill E. Steele
*Bionics: Nature as a Model. 1993. PRO FUTURA Verlag GmbH, München, Umweltstiftung WWF Deutschland
* [http://www.biomimeticsregistry.net BioParadigm ACCESS - Consolidates information on available biomimetic IP for product designers, engineers and material scientists worldwide]
* [http://www.biologize.com Biologize your business using biomimetics to develop strategic thinking and process]
* [http://www.amdsupport.ca/articles/79/1/Bionic-Eyes-Under-Development/Page1.html Bionic Eyes In Development]
* [http://www.ccnmag.com/story.php?id=197 Technology And The Quality Of Life: Part One--A Vision Of The Future]
* [http://www.daimlerchrysler.com/dccom/0,,0-5-7154-1-503504-1-0-0-503518-0-0-8-10736-0-0-0-0-0-0-0,00.html Boxfish - DaimlerChrysler]
* [http://www.cimit.org Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology developing nano-hair bionics]
* [http://www.bionics2space.org/ Bionics2Space: Bionics & Space System Design]
* [http://www.biomimicryinstitute.org Biomimicry Institute]
* [http://www.biomimicryguild.com Biomimicry Guild]
* [http://www.livescience.com/technology/050118_abalone_armor.html LiveScience on Biomimetic armour]
* [http://www.scq.ubc.ca/?p=321 An overview of biomimetics/biomimicry at the Science Creative Quarterly]
* [http://www.ric.org/about/news/pr_display.php?id=319 Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Neuro-Controlled Bionic Arm] .
* [http://www.sigmorobot.com/technology/news/toast_bionic_man.htm Neural Interface bionic Arm]
* [http://www.biomimetics.org.uk Biomimetics Network for Industrial Sustainability (BIONIS)]
* [http://furtech.typepad.com/feather_and_fur_technolog FurTech outdoor clothing using feather and fur technology.]
* [http://www.itmagz.com/admin/issuepdf/Bionics.pdf Article on Bionics for the Disabled]
* [http://www.imperial.ac.uk/biomedeng/research/bionics Bionics Research Group, Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Imperial College London]
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Look at other dictionaries:
Bionics — [engl.], Bionik … Universal-Lexikon
bionics — 1959, coined from bi(o) (see BIO (Cf. bio )) + (electr)onic; also see ICS (Cf. ics) … Etymology dictionary
bionics — Bionics (Biomimetics, Biognosis, Biomimicry, or Bionical Creativity Engineering) Бионика Область науки, изучающая особенности строения и жизнедеятельности организмов для создания новых приборов, механизмов, систем и совершенствования… … Толковый англо-русский словарь по нанотехнологии. - М.
bionics — ☆ bionics [bī än′iks ] n. [ BI(O) + (ELECTR)ONICS] the science of designing instruments or systems modeled after living organisms: see ROBOTICS … English World dictionary
bionics — /buy on iks/, n. (used with a sing. v.) the study of how humans and animals perform certain tasks and solve certain problems, and of the application of the findings to the design of electronic devices and mechanical parts. [1955 60; BIO(LOGY) +… … Universalium
bionics — bionika statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Organizmų struktūros bei gyvybinės veiklos principų panaudojimo technikoje tyrimas. atitikmenys: angl. bionics rus. бионика … Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas
bionics — bionika statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. bionics vok. Bionik, f rus. бионика, f pranc. bionique, f … Fizikos terminų žodynas
bionics — bionic ► ADJECTIVE 1) relating to the use of electrically operated artificial body parts. 2) informal having ordinary human powers increased by or as if by the aid of such devices. DERIVATIVES bionically adverb bionics plural noun … English terms dictionary
bionics — noun plural but singular or plural in construction Etymology: 2bi + onics (as in electronics) Date: 1960 a science concerned with the application of data about the functioning of biological systems to the solution of engineering problems … New Collegiate Dictionary
bionics — noun /ˈbaɪˌɒnɪks/ a) The design of engineering systems, especially electronic ones, based on that of biological systems. b) biomimetics See Also: bionic … Wiktionary