Biomimetic refers to human-made processes, substances, devices, or systems that imitate nature. The art and science of designing and building biomimetic apparatus is called biomimetics, and is of special interest to researchers in nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), the medical industry, and the military.
Some biomimetic processes have been in use for years. An example is the artificial synthesis of certain vitamins and antibiotics. More recently, biomimetics have been suggested as applicable in the design of machine vision systems, machine hearing systems, signal amplifiers, navigational systems, and data converters. The neural network (which has suffered through on-again, off-again status in the opinions of prominent researchers) is a hypothetical biomimetic computer that works by making associations and educated guesses, and that can learn from its own mistakes.
Other possible applications of biomimetics include nanorobot antibodies that seek and destroy disease-causing bacteria, artificial organs, artificial arms, legs, hands, and feet, and various electronic devices. One of the more intriguing ideas is the so-called biochip , a microprocessor that grows from a starter crystal in much the same way that a seed grows into a tree, or a fertilized egg grows into an embryo.