Exaptation in Physics and Materials Science

Zaiser M, Zapperi S (2020)

Publication Type: Book chapter / Article in edited volumes

Publication year: 2020

Edited Volumes: Understanding Innovation Through Exaptation

Pages Range: 35-45

ISBN: 9783030457839

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-45784-6_3


The biological theory of evolution has been used as a powerful analogy for the history of technological innovation. Here, we discuss how the concept of exaptation, which in the context of evolutionary biology describes the advantageous exploitation of existing traits for completely new functions, can be used to better understand what drives scientific progress in theoretical physics and materials science. The rapidly growing field of automatic materials discovery provides excellent examples of both adaptation and exaptation. Finally, we discuss how basic mechanisms resulting from long-term evolutionary histories—based both on adaptation and exaptation—can now be exploited to design new functional bio-inspired materials.

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Zaiser, M., & Zapperi, S. (2020). Exaptation in Physics and Materials Science. In Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 (Eds.), Understanding Innovation Through Exaptation. (pp. 35-45).


Zaiser, Michael, and Stefano Zapperi. "Exaptation in Physics and Materials Science." Understanding Innovation Through Exaptation. Ed. Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020, 2020. 35-45.

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