Biomimetics research

Researchers at Nottingham University have teamed with Jilin University in China, to work on a new biomimetics research initiative that aims to tackle current challenges facing the engineering industry.

Based at the UK-China Joint Laboratory on Biomimetics of Functional Surfaces & Fluids Interactions at Jilin University, the project will take inspiration from designs in the natural world to solve technological and engineering issues facing the 21st century.

Dr Yuying Yan, associate professor at Nottingham University, said: ‘In the natural world, plants and animals have evolved over time to best adapt to their environment. Different functions – for example, protection from solar radiation, drag reduction or defence against pathogens – lead to a great variety of complex three-dimensional surface structures at microscopic level.

‘Biomimetics, which is sometimes described as “abstract good design from nature”, could help to find solutions to improve technological designs, and to provide appropriate models for developing efficient and sustainable engineering surfaces for specific applications. There are a huge number of possible applications of such functional surfaces in engineering, for example, in building materials, glasses, polymers, textiles and car surfaces.

‘The joint laboratory will enable researchers at both universities to use and share the facilities available on both sides, and to promote more effective research exchanges and collaborations.’

Funding of almost £300,000 has been granted by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in addition to RMB12m from the Chinese Science and Technology Ministry and the Ministry of Education.

The laboratory is the first international joint centre in biomimetics and intends to promote more effective collaboration between research teams at both universities.