State of the Art Paper: Biomimetics: Adapting Performance and Function of Natural Materials for Biobased Composites


  • Scott Renneckar


Biomimetics, biomimicry, biocomposites, foams, polymer composites, biomineralization, iridescence


Natural materials may serve as an excellent template for the design of high-performance manufactured materials. Because natural materials are fabricated at standard temperature and pressure from benign chemicals, adapting or mimicking nature's design methods and structures offers the potential to enhance performance, lower energy requirements, decrease toxic chemical accumulation, and create materials with life cycles that better correspond with the environment. As the forest products industry has matured, adapting naturally occurring designs has meant potential innovation for commodity markets, decreasing manufacturing inputs (energy, carbon, or other materials), and enhancing product performance. This study reviews nature-inspired pathways for biocomposites to 1) enhance the specific mechanical properties, 2) assemble materials from aqueous systems, 3) create hybrid inorganic-biopolymer composites, and 4) develop functional hydrophobic coatings and photonic colored films. To achieve controlled architectures found in natural materials, innovative production technologies that allow for timed processes and self-assembly must be applied to biobased composite manufacturing.


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