Research Topic

Biologically-Informed Approaches to Design Processes and Applications

About this Research Topic

Cover image credits to Rogelio Moreno

Biologically-informed approaches apply insights from biology to technological and design challenges. The paradox of engineering and design is that success learns from failure rather than success. Life on earth represents over 3.8 billion years of ‘success ...

Cover image credits to Rogelio Moreno

Biologically-informed approaches apply insights from biology to technological and design challenges. The paradox of engineering and design is that success learns from failure rather than success. Life on earth represents over 3.8 billion years of ‘success through failure’, where evolution by natural selection ruthlessly purges design failures. Living organisms have solved, in diverse ways, environmental challenges at every scale, including those of sustainability and the efficient capture and use of energy and information. Biomimetic and bioinspired solutions to anthropogenic environmental challenges have grown exponentially over the past few decades, with applications across many domains, from architectural design, medical interventions, nanophotonics, robotics to materials science.

Nevertheless, research supporting bioinspired or biomimetic approaches often draw on a limited range of biological models to achieve a single objective or function. This perspective overlooks the key features of biological systems, which are sustainable, self-assembled and multifunctional. Sustainable biological systems are closed/cyclic and comprise simple, abundant materials; self-assembly allows complexity to emerge from simple components with no external direction; and multiple functions are achieved at different scales of organization in extraordinarily diverse ways. Capturing these properties of living organisms and systems represents the next frontier for biologically-informed solutions to anthropogenic problems. But such an approach faces another major challenge: biological materials, structures and processes are highly complex and inter-connected, yet biologically-informed applications must be sufficiently simple to manufacture or apply at scale.

This interdisciplinary Research Topic, conceived through the BioInspiration Hallmark Research Initiative , aims to promote approaches to designs and applications that are informed by biology and capture the key properties of biological systems through functional analogy rather than figurative referencing. Our intention is that the Biologically-Informed Approaches to Design Processes and Applications Research Topic will foster deeper collaboration between biologists, physicists, engineers and designers to solve the significant challenges of our time.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

• Optimization – development and application of bioinspired computational approaches and tools for problem-solving
• Self-assembly – reveal how ordered, functional structures and properties emerge from local interactions among individual, constituent components, without external direction or fields
• Sustainability – design of materials and processes for efficient use and reuse of energy, water and other resources
• Emergent properties of biological systems – e.g., collective behavior and swarm intelligence
• Bioinformed information capture (including chemical sensors), processing and transfer
• Machine learning, distributed learning and data fusion


Keywords: Adaptive multifunctional systems, Bio-robotics, Bionics and Bio-inspired soft robotics, Biologically informed optimization and information processing, Bio-inspired architectural design and engineering, Biomimetic materials, Biomimetic composites and structures, Self-assembly and self-organisation


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Manuscript
30 June 2022 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Manuscript
30 June 2022 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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