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Bio-inspired material Innovation: notes from the conference

Just before Passover, I had the privilege of being among the lecturers at the "Innovation Inspired by Nature - Academia and Industry" conference held at the Steinhardt Museum of Nature at Tel Aviv University. The conference, initiated by Yael Halfman Cohen, Melanie Samson and Maya Millard Givon, brought together diverse professionals who are all interested in biomimicry - And it seems that the number of people was limited only by the size of the hall.

From my experiences the connection between materials and the natural world is indeed natural, and of course it encourages innovation. I presented these ideas in my lecture: after all, all materials come from nature and all materials return to nature at the end of their lives. Hence, this connection also points to a possible problem, a needed consideration for the longevity of the material and its ability to return to nature without harming it. Happily, every challenge is a starting point for innovation, therefore in the last decades we see a clear trend of developing groundbreaking materials inspired by nature, which also know how to live in peace with nature and with man. In the lecture I shared with the audience these developments, the ways of thinking that led to the development and their applications. There were spiders and birds, concrete, glass and buildings, and the stars of the current material age: proteins, fungi and bacteria.

In addition to this, the conference featured a variety of fascinating lectures and essays: Creature-inspired wonders ware presented by Dr. Bat-El Pinchasik from Tel Aviv University who showed the development of robots inspired by Notonectidae. And Prof. Amir Ayali, also from Tel Aviv University, showed the absolutely incredible (!) abilities of certain insects to lengthen their bodies. In the field of materials: Dr. Arielle Blonder from the Technion who presented her inspiring work in the field of self-designed materials in the world of architecture, Prof. Mark Schvartzman from Ben Gurion University who presented the extensive activity of his laboratory in the development of structures and materials inspired by nature on a molecular scale, Dr. Mirit Sharabi from Ariel University who presented fascinating research on soft materials and the relationship between the mechanical function and structure in soft tissues and Prof. Avi Marmur from the Technion who presented the research in the field of super-hydrophobic materials inspired by the lotus leaf.

In the context of mechanisms, Zeneve Ezra from Ben Gurion University presented a study on carrying loads in plant wings as a model for aviation, which reminded me that the first time I came to the biomimicry conference, in 2014, Dr. Yael Helfman Cohen demonstrated on stage the a graceful circular motion in which this leaf falls to the ground. The conference ended with a lecture by Michal Fonia Alexandron from the Horvitz Institute for Strategic Management, who shared with us what can be learned from nature about responsible investment management. And there ware many more!!

The day concluded with the realization that nature is not only thought-provoking, or a source of innovation for overcoming technical or mechanical challenges, but it can also be a significant tool for making all areas of life and the planet better.

Following my lecture at the conference, I was invited to give similar lectures in several other places. So if you are also interested in finding out more about the fascinating world of innovation in materials inspired by nature. Please feel free to contact me>>>

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