Biomimetics is the study of the structure and function of biological systems as models for the design and engineering of materials and machines. It is widely regarded as being synonymous with biomimicry, biomimesis, biognosis and similar to biologically inspired design.
The term biomimetics is derived from the Greek word βίος, bios, "life" and the suffix mimetic, "having an aptitude for mimicry", the latter being a word originally used in the 1630s, derived from the Greek μιμητικός, mimetikos, "imitative,".
Biomimetics was coined by the American biophysicist and polymath Otto Schmitt during the 1950s. It was during his doctoral research that he developed the Schmitt trigger by studying the nerves in squid, attempting to engineer a device that replicated the biological system of nerve propagation. He continued to focus on devices that mimic natural systems and by 1957 he had perceived a converse to the standard view of biophysics at that time, a view he would come to call biomimetics.
Biophysics is not so much a subject matter as it is a point of view. It is an approach to problems of biological science utilizing the theory and technology of the physical sciences. Conversely, biophysics is also a biologist's approach to problems of physical science and engineering, although this aspect has largely been neglected.—Otto Herbert Schmitt, In Appreciation, A Lifetime of Connections: Otto Herbert Schmitt, 1913 - 1998
A similar term, 'Bionics' was coined by Jack Steele in 1960 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio where Otto Schmitt also worked. Steele defined bionics as "the science of systems which have some function copied from nature, or which represent characteristics of natural systems or their analogues". During a later meeting in 1963 Schmitt stated,
Let us consider what bionics has come to mean operationally and what it or some word like it (I prefer biomimetics) ought to mean in order to make good use of the technical skills of scientists specializing, or rather, I should say, despecializing into this area of research—Otto Herbert Schmitt, In Appreciation, A Lifetime of Connections: Otto Herbert Schmitt, 1913 - 1998
In 1969 the term biomimetics was used by Schmitt to title one of his papers and by 1974 it had found its way into Webster's Dictionary.
- Design by Nature - National Geographic
- Michael Pawlyn: Using nature's genius in architecture from TED 2010
- Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in Action from TED 2009
- Robert Full shows how human engineers can learn from animals' tricks from TED 2002
- Biomimetic MicroElectronic Systems at the University of Southern California
- Centre for Biomimetics at the University of Reading
- Biomimetics and Natural Technologies Group at the University of Bath
- Biomimetic Robotics Lab at Stanford University
- The Biomimetics Laboratory at the University of Auckland
- Biomimetics for Innovation and Design Laboratory at the University of Toronto
- Biomimetics Advanced Concepts Team at the European Space Agency
- Biomimetic Devices Laboratory at Tufts University
- Molecular Biomimetics, Sarikaya Research Group at the University of Washington
 See also
- Bioinspiration & Biomimetics (peer-reviewed journal)
- Journal of Biomimetics Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering (peer-reviewed journal)
- "Mimetic". Online Etymological Dictionary.
- Vincent, Julian F.V.; Bogatyreva, Olga A., Bogatyrev, Nikolaj R., Bowyer, Adrian, Pahl, Anja-Karina (21 August 2006). "Biomimetics: its practice and theory". Journal of The Royal Society Interface 3 (9): 471–482. doi:10.1098/rsif.2006.0127.
- "Otto H. Schmitt, Como People of the Past". Connie Sullivan, Como History Article.
- Schmitt O. Third Int. Biophysics Congress. 1969. Some interesting and useful biomimetic transforms. p. 297.