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Behind the Scenes of PMB 190

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Qualcomm MEMS Technologies (QMT) sponsored the spring 2011 PMB 190 class. Breakthroughs asked Qualcomm MEM Technologies director Cheryl Goodman about the company’s educational mission.

Why is QMT sponsoring this class?

QMT has made a serious commitment to advance the field of biomimicry because of the possibility to innovate new technologies. One of our efforts is to focus on education. It is our belief that for the field of study to reach its full potential it must be present from the classroom to the lab. The opportunity to support the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources is a great start to help bring biomimicry to the forefront.

What are some examples of biomimicry in QMT’s work?

QMT has developed the industry’s first biomimicry-inspired micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS) display for mobile devices—a technological innovation that results in low power consumption and superb viewing quality in a wide range of environmental conditions, including bright sunlight.

The principle that makes a butterfly’s wings reflect light and “shimmer” is the same used in Qualcomm’s mirasol displays. The display works by reflecting light so that specific wavelengths interfere with each other to create color.

We also have a fabrication facility in the Longtan Science Park of Taiwan, and when we first broke ground for this plant we sponsored the building of a butterfly observatory for the local elementary school district. With an observatory right there on their school grounds, these kids not only have an up-close example of biomimicry, but they have a place where the true practice of biomimicry can begin.

What do you think the next generation of students discovering this concept can bring to the world?

We live in an amazing world and Mother Nature’s answers to scientific challenges are all around us. This new generation of students has an unparalleled opportunity to apply what they find in the natural world and innovate more efficient and effective technologies. The first step is to develop curriculum around the principles of biomimicry and then integrate it into our classrooms. As more students learn about biomimicry and the related opportunities, new waves of innovation will help drive this new field of study into the future. We hope this class of Berkeley students will help lead that charter.

Qualcomm MEMS Technologies (QMT) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm.

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