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Friday, 9 January 2015

170) The “25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series": (x) 2003 onwards minted by the Austrian Mint : Tenth Coin in the Series "Bionics" (2012):

170) The “25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series": (x) 2003 onwards minted by the Austrian Mint by using Niobium and Niobium metal insertion technology for the first time anywhere in the World of Numismatics:

Tenth Coin in the Series: “Bionics” (2012):


The term Bionics was coined by Jack E. Steele in 1958. In Greek the meaning of the word “bion” is “unit of life” and “ic” means “like”. Thus bionic stands for “life-like”.

Bionics relates to the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology. It is a science that combines “biology” and “electronics”. The study of bionics emphasises upon implementing a function found in nature, instead of merely imitating the biological structures.

A classical example of bionics is the development of dirt-and-water repellent paint (coating) developed from the observation that the surface of the lotus flower plant is unsticky for anything. Similarly, Velcro was inspired by the tiny hooks found on the surface of burs.

The term Bionic was popularised by the 1970s television serials “The Six Million dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman”, both based on the novel “Cyborg” penned by Martin Caidin and featuring humans with superhuman powers driven by electromechanical implants.

Nature as a Biologically Inspiring Model:

Evolution over millions of years made nature introduce solutions that are highly power-efficient and imitating them offers potential improvements of our life and of the tools that humans use.

The introduction of the wheel was one of the greatest inventions that humans made which allows travelling great distances and to perform tasks that would have otherwise been impossible to accomplish. Wheel based locomotion mechanisms allow reaching great distances and speeds, even then, there are limitations sometimes wheeled vehicles are subjected to great limitations in regard to traversing complex terrain with obstacles, which necessitated man to mimic birds and take to flying machines & gliders.

As of now, there are three biological levels in the flora & fauna on which modern technology can be modelled:

-      Mimicking natural methods of manufacture

-      Imitating mechanisms found in nature

-      Studying organisational principles from the social behaviour of organisms, such as the flocking behaviour of birds, optimisation of ant foraging and bee foraging and swarm intelligence based on fishes.

Making miniature devices that can fly like a dragonfly, adhere to walls like geckos, adapt the texture, patterns and shape of the surrounding like an octopus, which can refigure its body to pass through very narrow tubing, process complex 3 D images in real time, recycle mobility power for highly efficient operation and locomotion, self-replicate, self-grow using surrounding resources, chemically generate and store energy and many other capabilities that biology offers as a model for science and engineering inspiration.

Robots are being developed, particularly for space missions, which can negotiate mobility in difficult/complex terrains, perform sample acquisition and analysis and many other functions that are attributed to legged animals including grasping and object manipulation. These robots can be in the shape of six-legged spiders each of which has interchangeable end-effectors to perform the required mission.

Some familiar examples of Bionics:

-      Bionics is helping in designing of more state of the art Aircraft, through mimicking birds in flight & manoeuvrability.

-      The adhesive which is used by mussels to stick to rocks, piers and boat hulls has influenced the development of bio-adhesive gel for blood vessels.

-      Air-conditioning systems in buildings are being modelled after termite mounds to create efficient cooling.

-      Neuromorphic chips, silicon retinae or cochleae have wiring which imitates real neural networks.

-      Study of wing structures of butterflies has led to the creation of latest nano-sensors for detecting explosives.

-      Some paints and roof tiles are engineered to be self-cleaning by imitating the mechanism from the lotus.

-      The material used in anthills is so strong that it can withstand massive impacts for several generations. The chemical analysis of this material is being done to use it as a replacement material for concrete.

-      Bionics in engineering include the hulls of boats imitating the thick skin of dolphins and sonar, radar and medical ultrasound imaging imitating the echolocation of bats.

-      In computer science, the study of bionics uses artificial neurons, artificial neuron networks and swarm intelligence. Also, in computer science, cybernetics tries to model the feedback and control mechanisms that are inherent in intelligent behaviour, while Artificial Intelligence (AI) tries to model the intelligent function regardless of the particular method in which it can be achieved.

-      Copying examples and mechanisms from natural organisms and ecologies is a process which treats nature itself as a database of solutions which have evolved through the process of evolution. This approach mimics nature and minimises the risk of failures.

Bionics in Medicine:

-      Bionics means the replacement or enhancement of organs or other body parts by mechanical versions and is a combination of passive and activated abilities that can be added to a person.

-      Bionic implants differ from mere prostheses by mimicking the original function very closely, or even surpassing it.

-      The German term “Bionik” includes the broader meaning and tries to develop engineering solutions from biological models. This approach is inspired by the fact that biological solutions will usually be optimised by evolutionary forces.

-      A surgery is performed to allow the biology of the recipient’s body to control electronic implants or prostheses. In addition, to skills and traits, bionics adds an additional level of customisation to the person’s capabilities. Certain combinations of bionics work well with each other, creating a fluid synergy.  A power storage bionic and a bionic capable of charging the battery are necessary for the use of other bionics. Once the implants are completed, a Bionic person has enhanced abilities.

-      Bionics for the disabled:

Prosthetic arms or leg enhancements are worn outside the body or implanted sensor devices inside the body which are specifically enhanced to help carry out routine functions. These are essentially life systems that are powered by motors/actuators and sensory arrays, which send out neural signals from the affected part of the body to the brain, by which individuals are able to perform some tasks independently. This technology is particularly useful for human beings as they do not have the power of regenerating the lost organ say for example, a starfish or a lizard which possess the capability to grow back arms and legs, restoring them to the original state. 
 The Axotyl is an amphibian which can live on both land and water, but prefers to live in the water. It has the capability to grow any limb or cut portion of its body to its original size/shape. Found in the rivers of Mexico, it is now an endangered species whose numbers have declined alarmingly, because it is hunted by poachers for its medicinal properties. We took this photo at an Aquarium which we recently visited in Pune.

-      Till the time that stem cell research is able to find the answers to this dilemma, bionics is an alternative to restore a human body’s capabilities to perform routine functions.

-      During ancient mythological times soldiers were known to have artificial limbs made of iron to replace the ones they had lost in battle which rendered them combat ready once again.

-      Today, however, several technologies – robotics, bio-engineering, MEMS together-with nano-technology provide detailed precision to engineer body organs and make them function along with human tissues. Several technological advancements have taken place, both in medical and electronics industry in the form of miniaturised electronic components, sophisticated microchips and advanced computer systems which can be embedded in the human body.

-       Cochlear implants for hearing impaired persons, a silicon retina which works on similar lines & produces images as a living retina, bionic arms etc. are a functioning reality available to physically challenged persons. Intelligently powered exoskeleton bionic devices are being developed that can be strapped on to enhance the strength, mobility and endurance of soldiers and paraplegics, even for mountain climbing and outdoor adventure sports etc.

-      Perfection of the bionic eye & cures for a range of neurological disorders promises to find realistic solutions in hitherto extremely challenging fields.

-      Potentially, neurobionic devices could be implanted to stop tremors and movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and treat debilitating psychiatric conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. As neurobionics develops, this technology can drastically improve brain-computer interface. With a bionic device capable of reading brainwaves implanted into the brain of a quadriplegic, for example, the device can transmit the brain signals to chips implanted into machines, such as wheelchairs and computers. Thus, a human can have the capability of controlling any appropriately micro-chipped machine with the power of the mind.

-      Electro-active Polymers (EAPs): One of the requirements of driving mechanisms that emulate biology is the development of actuators that mimic the capability of biological muscles.

-      The potential for such actuators is continuously growing with advances being made leading to more advanced mechanisms, which have functional similarities to biological muscles, including resilience, quiet operation, damage tolerance and large actuation strains (stretching, contracting or bending).

-      Electro-active polymers can potentially provide more lifelike aesthetics, vibration and shock dampening and more flexible actuator configurations. These materials can be used to make mechanical devices and robots with no traditional components like gears & bearings. Also, they could be used as artificial organs.

-      Electro-active polymers can potentially enable bio-engineering of medical applications that are considered impossible with today’s technology. Important additions to this capability can be the application of tele-presence combined with virtual reality using haptic interfaces (relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception). As technology progresses, it is possible that bio-mimetic prosthetics will become commonplace in future.

Some other Fields of Bionics:

For chemical reactions related bionics, the term used is “bio-mimetic” coined by Otto Schmitt in the 1950s. This branch of Chemistry relates to reactions that, in nature, involve biological macromolecules like enzymes and nucleic acids whose chemistry can be replicated using much smaller molecules in vitro.

Business bio-mimetics is an exciting field in which principles and practice from biological systems are applied to business strategy, processes, organisation design & strategic thinking. It is a creative technique which uses biological prototypes to get ideas for engineering solutions.

Another field of bionics deals with the merging of organisms and machines. This gives rise to a hybrid system which combines biological and engineering parts, which can be termed as a cybernetic organism or a “cyborg”. The movie series “Robocop” depicts one such experiment.

Bionic Architecture:

 This Branch of Bionics is concerned with the design and construction of expressive buildings whose layout and lines borrow from natural or biological forms. The focus of the practitioners is on development of aesthetic and economic justifications for these architectural forms.

The 2012 “25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin - Bionics”:

This coin shows examples of how evolution in the natural world acts as a prototype of technology.
 On the Obverse of the coin is depicted a cross-section of a Nautilus shell snail, above which an eagle soars with its outstretched wings in the Niobium core. The denomination of the coin “25 Euro” is shown on the right periphery of the Niobium core, below which is mentioned the year of issue “2012”. On the outer silver ring on the lower left periphery is shown a shark, while above the shark is depicted a lotus flower together with palm fronds/leaves and bubbles in the water in which the lotus is growing. On the upper periphery is shown an aeroplane, while emulates the flight of the eagle. On the right periphery of the outer silver ring is mentioned the name of the country “REPUBLIK OSTERREICH” (MEANING “Republic of Austria”).

Through the process of Evolution, living organisms tend to become highly optimised and efficient. A prime example is the water-repellent nature of the lotus flower and that of shark skin, a phenomenon fundamental in the development of paint. By the same token, the chambered shell of the nautilus has influenced architectural design and the mechanics of bird flight has very significantly inspired aviation. All these four examples feature on the coin’s obverse.

The colour of the Niobium core in this coin is purple.

On the Reverse of the coin is depicted the use of Bionics in architecture. A radiolarian, the plankton that inspired the Spanish modern architect Antoni Gaudi, is depicted in the foreground, while this face’s background shows an interior view of Munich’s Olympic Stadium, the roof of which is famously designed on a honeycomb pattern, are all based on observations in the field of Bionics. 
The specifications of the coin are:

Face value: 25 Euros; Metallic composition: Outer ring: Silver (Ag) 900 – 9 gms, Niobium 998 – 6.50 gms; Diameter: 34 mm; Weight: 16.50 gms; Edge: smooth.

The mintage of this coin was limited to a maximum of 65000 pieces.

The following coins have been issued in this Series:

2003 – 700 years old Hall City in Tyrol or Tirol

2004 – 150 years Semmering Alpine Railway

2005 – 50 years of Television

2006 – The European Satellite Navigation

2007 – Austrian Aviators

2008 – Fascinating Light

2009 – Year of Astronomy

2010 – Renewable Energy Sources

2011 – Robotics

2012 – Bionics

2013 – Drilling tunnels

2014 - Evolution
2015 - Cosmology 


1) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series minted by the Austrian Mint: First coin: "700 Years of Hall City in Tirol or Tyrol"

 2) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series minted by the Austrian Mint: Second coin: "150 Years of the Semmering Alpine Railway"

3) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series minted by the Austrian Mint: Third Coin: "50 Years of Television in Austria"

4) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series minted by the Austrian Mint: Fourth coin: "European Satellite Navigation System"

5) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series minted by the Austrian Mint: Fifth Coin: "Austrian Aviators"

6) The 25 Euro Silver Niobium Coin Series issued by the Austrian Mint: Sixth Coin: "Fascinating Light"

7) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series issued by the Austrian Mint: Seventh Coin: "The International Year of Astronomy"

8) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series issued by the Austrian Mint: Eighth Coin: "Renewable Energy"

9) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series issued by the Austrian Mint: Ninth Coin: "Robotics"

10) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series issued by the Austrian Mint: Eleventh Coin: "Tunnel Construction"

11) The 25 Euro Silver-Niobium Coin Series issued by the Austrian Mint: Twelfth Coin: "Evolution"

12) The 50 Euro Gold Coin Series issued by the Austrian Mint: "Klimt & his Women: 2012-2016" (includes Coin of the Year 2015 (COTY)


  1. Ramchandra Lalingkar has commented:
    "Amazing information. Hats off to those who invented these techniques by observing surrounding 'nature' and of course to you who made available this valuable information to us. Thanks".

    1. Thank you, Lalingkar sahab. I have been researching for this post for about one month now & am simply fascinated by the information on the technologies developed/under development by mimicking nature.