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Bioinspir Biomim. 2013 Dec;8(4):044003. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/8/4/044003. Epub 2013 Oct 4.

Biomimicry and the culinary arts.

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  • 1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA.


We present the results of a recent collaboration between scientists, engineers and chefs. Two particular devices are developed, both inspired by natural phenomena reliant on surface tension. The cocktail boat is a drink accessory, a self-propelled edible boat powered by alcohol-induced surface tension gradients, whose propulsion mechanism is analogous to that employed by a class of water-walking insects. The floral pipette is a novel means of serving small volumes of fluid in an elegant fashion, an example of capillary origami modeled after a class of floating flowers. The biological inspiration and mechanics of these two devices are detailed, along with the process that led to their development and deployment.

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