Research Themes

Bioinspired research is rooted in observations of nature as a source of inspiration. This can be applied to any area of innovation, including the development of new materials, devices, technology and structures, and processes. However, the BioInspiration Hallmark Research Initiative has initially identified three key research themes that leverage existing research strengths.

Bioinspired Nano-optics and Materials

Biological structures are increasingly the source of blueprints and inspiration to solve complex challenges in photonics and materials science.Natural structures such as beetle cuticles and butterfly wing scales have inspired the development of many new and improved functional materials. These include anti-reflection coatings to improve the efficiency of solar cells, anti-counterfeiting technologies (e.g. metallic holograms on credit cards and banknotes), and optical devices that focus or polarise light.


  • Associate Professor Devi Stuart-Fox, BioSciences
  • Professor Ann Roberts, Physics
  • Professor Ken Crozier, Physics, and Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Dr James Hutchison, Chemistry
  • Dr Daniel Heath, Biomedical Engineering
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Bioinspired Design in Architecture

In nature, an extraordinary diversity of structural forms is achieved with a minimum inventory of components and materials. The search for optimal structural forms, materials and designs inspired by nature has its origins in the early 20th century. Examples of bioinspired materials, structures and surfaces include biomimetic self-repairing structural materials, bioinspired (self-)adaptive adhesion systems, and (self-)adaptive biomimetic facade shading system, Flecton. Bioinspiration is also an emerging area of basic and cognitive research activity associated with design thinking by analogy in architecture, engineering and industrial design.


  • Professor Mark Elgar, BioSciences
  • Professor Brendon McNiven, Melbourne School of Design
  • Dr Alberto Pugnale, Melbourne School of Design
  • Dr Giorgio Marfella, Melbourne School of Design
  • Dr Chris Jensen, Melbourne School of Design
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Bioinspired Chemical Sensors

Animals have evolved a remarkable diversity of mechanisms that allow them to detect light, sound and odours, and these sensors have already inspired numerous innovations in sensor technologies.


  • Dr Wallace Wong, Chemistry
  • Professor Mark Elgar, BioSciences
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Image credits:
Bioinspired Nano-optics and Materials (University of Illinois and Beckman Institute)
Bioinspired Design in Architecture (Alberto Pugnale)
Bioinspired Chemical Sensors: (Pixabay)