Engineers work tirelessly through trial and error to continually improve the performance of aircraft. These breakthroughs may manifest from little adjustments in design, sometimes more efficient engines or other technology breakthroughs. However, sometimes the best innovations can simply be found by turning to nature and taking a closer look at the top of the food chain.
Researchers at Harvard University experimented by incorporating the design of shark skin into aircraft and were quite amazed by the results. Sharkskin is composed small scales called “denticles” which allow sharks to travel through the water with very little drag. They experimented with by using 20 varieties of sharkskin on aircraft to find that they do reduce drag and increase lift in their models.
“Our findings not only open new avenues for improved aerodynamic design but also provide new perspective on the role of the complex and potentially multifunctional morphology of shark denticles for increased swimming efficiency.”
– August G. Domel (Engineering Science Inc.)
The results demonstrate that incorporating denticles into aircraft designs have improved performance by over 300%. Considering fighter planes have painted shark teeth on since World War II this revamp is just making it official. This video shows other some other technologies that already incorporate sharkskin style surfaces into their designs.