From natural to technical branchings: functional analysis as basis for biomimetic transfer

Published on November 10, 2014

Branched concept generators such as columnar cacti or arborescent monocotyledons hold a high potential for a biomimetic transfer into technical applications in automotive and constructional engineering.


A deepened understanding of the form-structure-function-relationship of these role models is gained by using different methods such as the preparation of thin sections with a microtome for optical analyses and various types of micro- and macro-mechanics testing. Other approaches include the use of a 3D-scanner and 3D-printer for measuring and reconstructing the morphology (form) of the branching. This allows quantifying the influence of the outer and inner structure on the mechanical behavior of the branchings and also understanding which parameters are of importance for the abstraction and implementation into different technical applications, as e.g. nodes in axle carriers or bicycle frames and stringers in airplanes as well as roof-bearing structures.

Speck Group | University of Freiburg, Germany

Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck holds the chair for “Botany: Functional Morphology and Biomimetics” at the University of Freiburg. He is head of the Plant Biomechanics Group Freiburg, director of the Botanic Garden Freiburg and member of the board of directors of the Freiburg Centre for Interactive Materials and Bioinspired Technologies (FIT). His main research interests include biomimetics (esp. bio-inspired materials and surfaces as well as biomimetic applications to architecture); biomechanics and functional morphology of plants (incl. plant movements and plant animal interactions); evolution of plant growth forms and early land plants; and eco-biomechanics of plants in tropical rainforests.

Dr. Tom Masselter is lecturer and a group leader of the Plant Biomechanics Group Freiburg. His main research interests are multi-scale analyses of plant structures and the biomimetic transfer to technical applications (esp. bio-inspired fibre-reinforced mate-rials and implementation of biomimetic solutions in architecture).

Linnea Hesse is a PhD student of the Plant Biomechanics Group Freiburg.

Different aspects of this research initiative are currently funded by the German Research Foundation DFG within the Priority Program “SPP 1420: Biomimetic Material Research: Functionality by Hierarchical Structuring of Materials” and within the “Collaborative Research Center – Transregio 141: Biological Design and Integrative Structures – Analysis, Simulation and Implementation in Architecture”.

Cooperation Partners:
Freiburg Centre for Interactive Materials and Bioinspired Technologies (FIT); Network of Competence Biomimetics Baden-Württemberg; TU Dresden with Botanical Institute & Botanic Garden and ILK Dresden; Institute of Textile Technology and Process Engineering (ITV) Denkendorf; Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) University of Stuttgart.


The original research article is published in the Open Access Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry and is part of the Thematic Series Chemistry in flow systems II.

Bou-Hamdan, F. R.; Lévesque, F.; O’Brien, A. G.; Seeberger, P. H., Continuous flow photolysis of aryl azides: Preparation of 3H-azepinones, Beilstein J. Org. Chem. 2011, 7, 1124–1129. doi:10.3762/bjoc.7.129

Masselter, T., Eckert, S., Speck, T.; Functional morphology, biomechanics and biomimetic potential of stem-branch-connections in Dracaena reflexa and Freycinetia insignis, Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology 2011, 2, 173-185, DOI: 10.3762/bjnano.2.21.

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