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Shark Skin Inspiration

February 14, 2018

Structures in shark skin could inspire improved aerodynamics in drones and wind turbines.




Shark aerodynamics. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Shark skin may appear smooth, but it’s actually made up of microscopic, tooth-like structures that reduce drag, allowing the animals to swim more efficiently. Understanding these structures could lead to more energy-efficient aerial devices, according to Harvard engineers Gus Domel and Mehdi Saadat, writing in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Their team created scaled-up models of the structures using a 3D printer, testing their aerodynamic properties when attached to wing-like blades. Domel says the structures didn’t just reduce drag, but led to major increases in lift. In real-world machines, this could translate to energy savings.

GUS DOMEL (Harvard University):

Nature’s had such a headstart through evolution that it’s good to look to nature for inspiration even for manmade aerial devices such as drones, wind turbines, and airplanes.


…And that could reduce fuel consumption in the long run. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard