Researchers, engineers and designers have long been inspired by the natural world and have applied their observations to their work, designing materials and machines that imitate properties of biological organisms and systems. A famous early example of such ‘biomimicry’ was the development of Velcro by the engineer George de Mestral. During a walk in the countryside in 1941, he became curious about whether the sticky properties of Burdock seeds (otherwise known as ‘burrs’) could be replicated. A number of years and a good deal of research later, synthetic ‘Velcro’ was created and patented. This type of thinking has been widely applied and has succeeded in solving a variety of problems ranging from achieving a better ‘grip’ on road surfaces to improving movement through water to improving drug delivery. Biomimicry is particularly relevant in the materials space. Dr Veronika Kapsali, an expert in biomimetic materials and a Reader in Materials Technology and Design at the London College of Fashion, talks to Helen Albert about her research in this area.

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