Bioinspired Synthesis: History, Fundamentals and Outlook
The ability of nature to control the formation of materials across multiple length scales, often simultaneously and under near-ambient conditions, is one that would be of great benefit across many areas of materials synthesis. The techniques used enable unrivalled optimisation of the materials produced, aiding the survival of the organisms that employ them. Harnessing these ideas and methods in the laboratory, or even at the industrial scale, offers new approaches to the control and synthesis of functional materials, often producing energy- and resource-efficient processes that are becoming increasingly important as global demand for functional materials increases. This introductory chapter examines how nature and biology have been used to inspire and control formation and function in inorganic materials. It considers a range of materials, including glasses, metals, and ceramics, and studies how nature has been used to control or inform their formation and explores the benefits and effects of these. The limitations and factors that must be considered for these types of synthesis are discussed, and the ideas further extended into organic and non-biological sources, whilst retaining the concepts found in many bioinspired techniques.