Solving materials design problems in biology and technology - A case study

Julian F V Vincent

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In a series of studies we have reclassified the TRE categories of 'contradiction' and 'inventive principle' derived by Altshuller and his colleagues and show that the hierarchical relationships of the parts of a problem are important, such that at low levels of hierarchy, materials and structure predominate, but at high levels, it's information which is important. By identifying the functional conflicts in its design, the cuticle of arthropods can be shown to cope with IR and UV irradiation in the same manner as our technology - by controlling spectral properties. However the skeletal properties of cuticle are integrated with demands for sensing, movement, etc, by controlling the local properties of the material rather than by changing global parameters (which would be the technical solution). The biomimetic similarity of cuticle with technology is only about 20%, suggesting that we can learn from the design of arthropod cuticle. © 2005 Materials Research Society.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Materials science
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Problem solving
  • Proteins
  • Infrared radiation
  • Biomimetic materials
  • Biotechnology
  • Living systems studies


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