WHAT IS ABIOM?
Since the beginning of time, the natural environment has been not only a source of food for humans, but also an inspiration for the quest for various technical solutions. Initially, man explored only easily accessible resources and used a variety of biomaterials (materials derived from living organisms) without virtually any processing. The first tools and vessels were made, among others, from such biomaterials as leather, bones, wood or shells.
The development of civilization has contributed to the improvement of the biomaterial processing technologies by allowing to extract or produce from them an even wider range of products such as: medicinal substances, dyes, fibres, oils, resins (including natural fibre). Parchment, papyrus and paper are also among the oldest biomaterials. In fact, until the end of the 19th century, all branches of industry were based on materials of plant and/or animal origin.
The industrial revolution contributed to the rapid exploration of natural resources-forests were cut down on a massive scale, a very expansive agricultural economy was carried out and a high birth rate resulted in a sharp reduction of the population of many animals. As a consequence, alternatives to natural resources were sought. At the same time, rapid development of plastics and of the broadly understood chemical industry took place. At the end of the 20th century, materials of biological origins were successfully replaced by their artificial equivalents in many areas of life. This applies not only to construction materials, but also to numerous everyday products, cosmetics, clothing, cleaning products, food additives and others. Current trends allow for a more sustainable materials policy based on the recovery of raw materials or semi-products from waste (so-called raw material recycling). Such measures also allow better use to be made of materials of plant and animal origin, thus meeting the needs of the market without excessive destruction of the environment (so-called sustainable development).
In recent years, the development of advanced research techniques has contributed the knowledge of the micro- and nano-structures of many biomaterials.
It seems that in the near future, bioinspired materials will occupy a special place in materials engineering (science dedicated to the production and research of materials properties). Their special feature is biomimicry (the ability to imitate selected features of living organisms). The notion is now almost iconic: the effect of a lotus flower or the effect of a gecko’s paw. There is even a separate branch of science called bionics or biomimetics, which studies the structure and principles of organism activity and adaptation of the obtained results in the applied technology. Excellence of living organisms, the defence and protection mechanisms that enable bacteria, plants and animals to survive, often under extreme conditions, have inspired contemporary scientists and engineers to recreate them in automatics, mechanics and electronics, medicine and pharmacy. These are the modern materials that you will be able to learn about while studying at the ABIOM.