The meaning and principle behind bio-mimetics or biologically-inspired materials.
Biomimetics…what does the name suggest? No, its not an insect..Bio mimic? Mimicking Biological systems? Somewhat in the line. Biomimetics is the science of creating artificial materials and structures inspired by nature. Yeah, you could have googled the meaning. But I’m not here to give you word meanings or act as a translator for bio language. I’m here to tell you about the impact this word has on recent science and technology and its research possibilities.
Let me start with a better known word-Nanotechnology. Yeah, that’s something you would have heard and I guess many of you know quite a lot about it. Nanotechnology is the manipulation of materials at the nano level i.e. at the molecular and even atomic level. This new venture of science is not quite so new in reality. Scientists have been investigating matter at the molecular level since a very long time. But the actual manipulation at the nanoscale has been possible only in the last decade. This has resulted in the reshaping of the foundations on which basic science is based. We can design new substances from the very basic level. Just imagine the possibilities. Well, its not really that simple. There’s still a very long way to go. But the implications of nanotechnology has already been visible in these last few years. Biochemists have been engineering molecular drug delivery systems; electrical engineers regularly etch features on chips less than 100 nm across: new polymers with better strength and other requisite qualities are being researched. There are national initiatives, billions of dollars in investment, convention-sized events, and whole publications devoted to nanotechnology. Nano is indeed big: a rallying cry marshalling an all-out assault on the next frontier in research.
So what has nanotechnology to do with biomimetics? No, they are not synonymous. Neither is one a part of another. Nanotechnology is one of the many tools by which we can use biomimetics. If you want synonyms to biomimetics-then they are biomimicry,bionics,etc. But you wont understand the meaning with a synonym, would you? In the simplest sense, bionics means the creating of anything resembling something in nature. Anything means anything. If you design a costume resembling an animal, if you design something based on natural occurrences(velcro), etc. All engineering is actually bionics. Biomimetic materials are the materials created resembling natural systems. Biomimetics is now being used for tissue engineering, tissue repair and most importantly, drug delivery. In the recent years, there has been a boom in research in the design, development and characterisation of novel micro fabricated and nanofabricated devices for drug delivery. Such devices seek to develop a platform of well-controlled functions at micro and nanoscales.
In addition, biomimetic methods are now used to build bio hybrid systems or even biomimetic materials for drug delivery, drug testing and tissue engineering devices. The synthesis and characterization of biomimetic gels and molecularly imprinted drug release and protein delivery systems are significant focus of recent research. In particular, biomimetic methods are facilitating the fabrication and assembly of materials and devices with molecular precision. In the near future, self-regulated micro-nanoscale drug delivery devices that will combine diagnostic and therapeutic actions will be created, enabling for real-time monitoring of target analyses and instantaneous administration of therapy. Interest and investment in this maturing field will continue to grow, and the resulting technologies will dramatically influence the nature and practice of medicine.
With the largest investments being made in the healthcare sector, biomimetic materials have become one of the hottest areas of research.
In one of my next posts, I will deal with the concept of drug delivery.
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