biomimetics (rus. биомиметика otherwise бионика) — (from Latin bios,“life” and mimesis, “imitation”) creation of devices, instruments, mechanisms or technologies, whose idea and basic elements are borrowed from nature.

Description

There are the following areas of biomimetics:

1) biological biomimetics, studying processes occurring in biological systems;

2) theoretical biomimetics, which builds mathematical models of these processes;

3) technical biomimetics, which applies models of theoretical biomimetics to solving engineering problems.

One of the earliest examples of biomimetic material is the widespread hook-and-loop fastener “Velcro”, inspired by the fruits of common burdock that stick to clothing. In recent years the development of biomimetics has been driven by the development of nanotechnology. The dimensions of biological macromolecules - nucleic acids (DNA , RNA) and proteins (antigens, antibodies, viral capsids, enzymes, etc.) lie on the nanometer scale. The ordered biological structure of biological macromolecules makes them useful in biomimetics. The DNA double helix, or spirally arranged viral capsid proteins can be used as scaffolds for specific spatial arrangement, e.g. of metal nanoparticles. Another approach consists of using the ordered DNA structure as a material for nanosystems (DNA-engineering). The idea of creating spatially organised DNA nanomatrices came from the works of Ned Seeman, who proposed the idea of DNA engineering, and Paul Rothemund, who created the method of “scaffolded DNA origami” (origami is the Japanese art of paper folding). A special computer program is used in the method proposed by Paul Rothemund to calculate a sequence of artificially synthesised single-stranded DNA in such a way that such DNA, when placed into a special solution, adopts a conformation defined by matching complementary regions of its nucleotide sequence. To make two-dimensional DNA structures from long programmable DNA strands (7,000 n. b.) the author suggested using auxiliary short DNA strands (200 n. b.), which he called “staples”. To demonstrate the method the author created “smiley-faces”, a map of America, snowflakes, hexagons, etc. (see Fig.) made out of DNA strands. Ned Seeman’s group created not only self-assembled two-and three-dimensional structures of DNA molecules, but also a “walking” nanorobot; the robot attaches and detaches its "legs" (consisting of DNA fragments) to/from the base DNA molecule alternately, and thus moves forward. Biomimetic nanotechnology is now in its infancy. Many discoveries can not yet be translated into specific commercial products, but their development will help a lot in creating nanodevices in future (see nanoelectromechanical systems).

Illustrations

An atomic force microscope photo of DNA origami from Paul Rothmund's article in the Nature maga
An atomic force microscope photo of DNA origami from Paul Rothmund's article in the Nature magazine [5].

Authors

  • Naroditsky Boris S.
  • Shirinsky Vladimir P.
  • Nesterenko Lyudmila N.

Sources

  1. Eric J. Lerner. Biomimetic nanotechnology //URL: http://www.aip.org/tip/INPHFA/vol-10/iss-4/p16.html (reference date: 12.12.2011).
  2. What is biomimetics? (in Russian) // Cleandex, 2007–2008. —www.cleandex.ru/articles/2008/07/07/biomimetic-1 (reference date: 12.12.2011).
  3. Omabegho T., Sha R., Seeman N. A bipedal DNA Brownian motor with coordinated legs // Science. 2009. V. 324, №5923. P. 67–71.
  4. Rothemund P.W. Folding DNA to create nanoscale shapes and patterns // Nature. 2006. V. 440, №7082. P. 297–302.

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