Despite the damage human hands do to the climate and nature in general, nature does not skimp on us by inspiring us with unconventional solutions to these problems.
A report published by Phys.org reviewed a selection of the most important scientific papers for 2020 that were inspired by nature. From the stinky durian that can charge electric cars, to the marine sponges that might help build better spaceships.
Removing tumors and blood clots may become easy, thanks to flexible, ultra-thin, and directional surgical needles that were inspired by parasitic wasps. Parasitic wasps lay their eggs through a hollow needle called a “sedge” that is implanted into their hosts like larvae.
This year, scientists studied the mechanism by which wasps lay eggs by means of a “spur” with blades that alternately move up and down. The results of the study are published in the journal Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.
This inspired the researchers to design a needle that mimics the miasma in its work, which would allow access to sunken places in the body to inject a drug or remove harmful tissues, which would reduce the damage of medical surgeries and the time required for recovery.
Spiders weave silk nets to capture their prey. However, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physics indicated that this silk could be used to make optical lenses capable of imaging infinitesimal viruses.
Scientists covered the spider silk threads with wax and then polished them with resin gum, as the silk takes the shape of a dome when the resin condenses, which can be used as a red blood cell-sized optical lens that can photograph small viruses or nanostructures within biological tissues. This lens can be used safely inside the body since it is made of a non-toxic natural material.
A study published in the journal Nature materials shows that the reticulated construction of a type of sponge found in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, known as the Venus Flower Basket, can inspire us to design a new generation of skyscrapers, long bridges and lighter spaceships.
The study revealed that the tubular structure of this type of sponge, in which the structural supports are parallel and intersect, like checkerboard, giving the sponge a ratio of “strength to weight” is the highest compared to any other traditional structures. Org, these types of marine sponges as “still inspiring us a lot.”
Batteries of stinking fruit
Some may see the durian fruit as delicious, but it smells crudely, which causes it to be banned in hotels in Southeast Asia, but this fruit was on another date with scientific fame this year.
A scientific study published in the Journal of Energy Storage indicated that it could be used to charge cell phones and electric cars.
Scientists were able to make a very light and porous material known as aerogel from this fruit. These materials act as “supercapacitors that can store large amounts of energy in small batteries, quickly,” said Vincent Gomez, co-author of the study. This ultimately enables it to save energy and distribute it smoothly to charge electronic devices in a few seconds.
Buildings of bamboo
Bamboo may be a versatile building material, but it is not strong enough. In a study conducted this year and published in the journal ACS Nano, scientists removed the organic lignin that makes up the xylem in bamboo. Then the bamboo was heated in a microwave, giving it double strength.
The removal of the lignin made the bamboo more flexible and helped reveal the cellulose nanofibers. Microwaving homogeneous heating helped to thicken the bamboo by removing water from it without damaging the bamboo skeleton. This may enhance the use of bamboo as a lighter and sustainable alternative to other pollutants for building homes and bridges.