A 6.3 | Identifying More Organisms

Gabe Pyle | A6.3

Project Update Report: Phase 1a
Biomimetic Strategy Identification

Project Summary:
The Biospire Insect Catcher is a biomimetic bug catcher for kids that allows them to take part in observing and participating nature without encouraging them to disrupt it. It will help them capture, study, and release bugs safely and in a way that doesn’t harm the insects.

Purpose:
This report serves as an update on the biomimetic development of the Biospire Insect Catcher kit. The first phase of development resulted in identification of a critical function the product must accomplish and discovery of relevant biological strategies that could provide possible solutions for product functions. The results of this first phase of product development are outlined below.

Selected Function:

One of the critical functions the Biospire Insect Catcher must accomplish is repelling and expelling solids and liquids so that the product will remain clean, and the view of the captured insects remains unobstructed. 

Organisms that perform this function:
Geckos
Plants
Springtails

The strategies each of these organisms use to perform this function:

Geckos

The skin of geckos is self-cleaning

The skin of geckos is self-cleaning

How it accomplishes the function:
he skin of the gecko is covered with tiny microstructures called spinules that collect water into larger droplets. The energy of the water being collected propel the drops of water off the gecko, keeping the gecko clean.

Strategies used:
Shape (spinules)

Why it’s effective:
The gecko’s skin cleans itself passively, using the energy of the water itself to propel it off the skin. 

 

Plants

Water beads on a plant leaf

Water beads on a plant leaf

How it accomplishes the function:
Many blooming plants have a waxy layer of “skin” that protects the plant from losing moisture as well as from microbial infections. 

Strategies used:
Materials 

Why it’s effective:
The waxy cuticle is impermeable to water, preventing dehydration from the inside as well as invasion from the outside

Serving another function:
The cuticle not only protects from excess water, but it also helps reflect harmful UV rays

The Springtail, barely the size of a pin's head

The Springtail, barely the size of a pin's head

How it accomplishes the function:

The skin of the springtail has three layers of protection. First, the skin is covered in tiny bristles that create a layer of air around the skin. Second, the skin is covered in tiny bumps that prevent water from collecting. Finally, each bump has a microscopic overhang that prevents fluids from progressing.

Strategies used:
Shape (three levels)
Geometry (bumps are arranged in a geometric pattern)

Why it’s effective:
The three-level protection is so effective that springtails are always spotlessly clean. Even microbial infections like E.coli were unable to attach to the springtails skin

 

Selected Strategy or Strategies:
Considering the remarkable cleanliness of the springtail, the three-tiered strategy is worth considering. However, even if the three-tiered approach is not achievable, the product could at least borrow from the gecko skin. Perhaps the containers could use multiple strategies to solve for cleanliness, especially as the material will be exposed on both the outside of the container as well as the inside.

 

Conclusions
The microstructure should be pursued first. If unsuccessful, consider a waxy-coating.