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Nanotechnology and Biomimicry

Anne Lynn Gillian-Daniel, Ph.D. Ben Taylor

Interdisciplinary Education Group University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nano All around Us

Self-cleaning glass

VX Nano Cordless Laser Mouse Apparel with silver nanoparticles

What is nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter 1 to 100 nanometers in size. 1. The nanometer is extremely small.

2. At the nanometer scale, many materials behave differently. 3. We can harness this new behavior to make new materials.

Exactly how small is a nanometer?

1/100th of a meter (centimeter)

1/1000th of a meter (millimeter) All these are still visible with your eyes.

How small can you see?

A human hair is ~40 m

One red blood cell is 6-8 m

A micrometer (m) is one-millionth of a meter

Nanoscale objects are 1,000 times smaller!!!

. . . Smaller than you can see!

A nanometer (nm) is one billionth of a meter!!

Viruses 3-50 nm

DNA 1-2 nm

Nanometer: Part of the Metric System

meter millimeter



1X100 1X10-3

WI is 420 km wide 11-year-old human ~ 1.4 m

mm 1/1,000

micrometer m 1/1,000,000
nanometer picometer nm pm 1/1,000,000,000

Hair: ~40m

1/1,000,000,000,000 1X10-12
DNA: 1-2 nm

Nano Fun Facts

In the time it takes to read this sentence, your fingernails will have grown approximately one nanometer (1 nm).

A nm is to a meter as an eye blink is to one year.

Smallness leads to new properties

Color Melting point Strength Conductivity Reactivity

Macro Gold

Macro Aluminum

Nano Aluminum Nano Gold

Nature to Nanotech: Biomimicry

What is biomimicry?
Biomimicry is imitating natures best ideas to solve problems.

Natures inspiration



Fast Swimsuit gallery/descriptions.php

Getty Images courtesy of Speedo

Termite Dens

Self-cooling Buildings

Alexander Johmann/Flickr

Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe , Mandy Patter,

Colors change depending on the angle from which the surface is viewed
Soap Bubble

Different thicknesses (bubbles) or nano features (peacock) create iridescence

Peacock feather close-up

Why is there iridescence in nature?

Attract mates or pollinators Camouflage
Blue Bedder flowers

Blue Morpho Butterfly

The iridescent color is created by nanometer-sized structures on the butterflies wing scales.

Blue Morpho Butterfly Wing

This microscope image shows the tree-like rib structures of a cross-section of the wing.

These nano-scale ribs reflect light to create iridescent colors.

Scanning Electron Microscope image of the Blue Morpho butterfly showing nanoscale features responsible for iridescence. (Shinya Yoshioka, Osaka University)

Peacock feathers are iridescent

Peacock feathers close up

Nano size holes repeat as a pattern on the nano scale

SEM of a cross section of one barbule
(Zi et al, PNAS 2003.)

This nanoscale pattern reflects light to create iridescent colors.

Biomimicry of Iridescence
Biomimicry of iridescence is used for security on currency, photo identification, and credit cards.

Biomimicry of Iridescence

Qualcomm has a new e-screen that mimics the iridescence of the blue Morpho butterfly. The screen gets brighter in sunlight.

The Lotus Effect

Nano-scale features, along with a waxy non-polar coating, together create a superhydrophobic surface. (very water repelling)

The lotus leaf is said to be self-cleaning because droplets of water roll off and remove dirt particles.

The Lotus Effect

Nano sized bumps

Biomimicry of The Lotus Effect

Self-cleaning glass had nanostructures that prevent water from sticking to the glass.

Lotusan paint mimics the lotus effects self-cleaning properties.

Nano-tex fabric repels liquids and stains.

Ormia Ears
Professor Nader Behdad of the UW-Madison is an engineer who is interested in the ears of Ormia flies

Ormia Ears
Time Difference

Time Difference

Biomimicry of Ormia Ears

Antennae Hearing Aids Microphones

What would inspire you in nature to solve a human problem?

MRSEC Personnel and Collaborators NISE Net Personnel and Collaborators College of Engineering National Science Foundation
NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center on Nanostructured Interfaces (DMR-0520527 and DMR-0079983) NSF Internships in Public Science Education (DMR-0424350) NSF Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (ESI-053253)
This presentation is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under the following DMR grants: #0424350 (IPSE), #0520527 and #0779983 (MRSEC); and ESI grant #053253 Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessary reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Thank You
Anne Lynn Gillian-Daniel, Ben Taylor,
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