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Published: 28 November 2017  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Industrial research
Innovation
Nanotechnology
Research policyHorizon 2020
Success storiesIndustrial research  |  Innovation
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Austria  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Spain
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Mimicking reptiles and bug skin for industrial applications

Lizards and bark bugs are more similar than they may at first appear: both have unique ways of dealing with water, and this has caught scientists' eyes. The LiNaBioFluid project hopes to replicate both skin systems in organic and inorganic materials for a wide range of applications.

Picture of the lizard
© Ewais - fotolia.com

The animal world is home to a menagerie of complex models and systems. When we as humans try to recreate some of these elements, it is known as biomimicry. Doing so can help solve complex human problems.

The EU-funded LiNaBioFluid project is attempting to mimic the exceptional ability of lizards and bark bugs to channel water both efficiently and quickly.

Certain lizards (such as the horned and spiky lizard) have networks of microscopic capillaries on their backs that can suck in water and channel it quickly and efficiently to the lizard’s mouth, maximising their uptake of water from the limited rainfall in their desert habitats.

Bark bugs are also special in this respect. Their bodies are made up of numerous tiny spikes which create a thin film of water, reducing the insect’s reflectivity. So when it rains, the bug – just like the tree it inhabits – turns darker and it is concealed from predators.

The LiNaBioFluid will study these different body surfaces and attempt to mimic their wetting properties in both organic (acrylic) and inorganic (steel) industrial materials. The project will use lasers to recreate the natural microscopic channels, ridges and spikes in their integuments.

Success could lead to innovative underwater applications, including materials with better friction, which experience less wear and tear in liquids, or exhibit reduced drag. Other applications could include the separation of water and oil, high-power device cooling or the development of more robust slide bearings.

Project details

  • Project acronym: LiNaBioFluid
  • Participants: Greece (Coordinator), Spain, Austria, Germany
  • Project Reference N° 665337
  • Total cost: € 3 024 827
  • EU contribution: € 3 024 827
  • Duration: July 2015 to June 2018

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Countries
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  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
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  Gambia
  Georgia