IMITATING SHARK SKIN TO REDUCE DRAG
Speedo’s Fastskin FSII swimsuit mimics the texture of sharkskin to improve its wearer’s speed while reducing drag. Sharks may appear sleek on the surface, but their skin comprises tiny scales known as dermal denticles (“little skin teeth”) that correspond to varying flow conditions. Rougher dermal denticles, for instance, cover the nose of the animal, while smoother ones amass further back. Furthermore, longitudinal grooves in the scales serve to channel water more efficiently over their surface, enhancing thrust.
Speedo’s Fastskin FSII swimsuit mimics the texture of sharkskin to improve the speed of its wearer.
The swimwear company’s ersatz sharkskin, which premiered at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, still has a ways to go, however. In February, Harvard scientists concluded that the Fastskin’s bumps were too small, rounded, and far apart to have the same effect as denticles, although its skintight form probably enhanced the swimmer’s performance in other ways.
APPLYING COLOR WITHOUT DYES
This dress’s iridescent hue is purely a trick of the light. Fashioned from Morphotex, the frock uses structurally colored to mimic the microscopic structure of the Morpho butterfly’s wings, which appear a shimmery cobalt despite its lack of pigment. Manufactured by Teijin in Japan, Morphotex requires no dyes or pigments, nor the prodigious amount of water and energy used in conventional dyeing.
Inspired by the microscopic structure of the Morpho butterfly’s wings, Morphotex requires no dyes or pigments.
A native of the South America rainforest, the Morpho is one of the largest butterflies in the world, with wings that span five to eight inches. The vivid color on the upper surface of their wings is the result of microscopic, overlapping scales that amplify certain wavelengths of light while canceling out others.
Similarly, Morphotex relies on fiber structure and physical phenomena such as light reflection, interference, refraction, and scattering to produce its opalescence. The fabric comprises roughly 60 polyester and nylon fibers, arranged in alternating layers that can be varied in thickness to produce four basic colors: red, green, blue, and violet.
ATTRACTING POLLINATORS WITH FASHION
To address the shrinking populations of bees and other pollinators, artist Karen Ingham treated a series of “Pollinator Frocks” with a nectar-like sugar solution to attract and nourish insects.
Karen Ingham treated her “Pollinator Frocks with nectar-like sugar solution to attract and nourish bees and their brethren.
Featuring electron-microscopy images of pollen, her wearable gardens fall into two separate categories: day-wear to draw bees and butterflies and evening-wear for nocturnal critters such as moths. Ingham sees her dresses having the most impact in urban spaces, where gardens are limited in number, nectar-rich plants are rare, and public engagement is most needed. “The clothing can be hung out as clothes are hung on a washing line, to act as an attractant to pollinators,” she says.