For this report, Thomson Reuters Web of Science Database (WoS) was taken as the source of publications. Data were tracked during March of 2021 to retrieve publications of the year 2020. Topic including the title, abstract and keywords were taken as the searching fields. Keywords tracked included biomimicry, biomimetic, biomimetics, biomimic, bio-inspired, bioinspired, bionic, nature-inspired, biologically inspired, bioinspiration, bio-inspiration, and biomimicking. The ranking of different countries/regions, universities, journals and research areas were generated based on the final number of published papers.
The total number of research papers retrieved in 2020 was 8,398 with 94 highly cited papers and 7 hot papers. The growth trend indicated that biomimetic research has been gaining its universal relevance during the recent past and maintains an annual growth rate of about 6% (Table 1). The terminology “biomimetic” has always been the most commonly used keyword in the field, while the keywords biomimic, bioinspiration, bio-inspiration, and biomimicking were seldom used.
Table1 The number of biomimetic research papers retrieved in WoS
Note: Final number is smaller than the subtotal because of the duplicated papers tracked by different keywords.
In 2020, there are 110 countries and regions in total involved in the publishing of biomimetic research papers, among which the top 20 covers over 83% of the total papers, while the rest countries and regions only accounted for nearly 17% (Fig 1). The top 10 countries are mainly distributed in China, the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Germany, Italy, South Korea, France, Australia and Japan (Table 2). In particular, Saudi Arabia has entered into the top 20 with the number of published papers nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020.
Fig 1 Distribution of biomimetic research papers among different countries/regions in 2020
Table 2 The top 20 countries/regions in 2020 (The number includes co-authored papers)
There are 24 universities in total publishing 60 or more biomimetic research papers in 2020. The top 10 universities are University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Jilin University, Sichuan University, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Harvard University, Fudan University, Tianjin University and Huazhong University of Science Technology (Table 3). According to the results, nearly 70% of the top 100 universities are from China and the United States, in which China has 49 and the United States has 19 (Fig 2).
Table 3 The top 24 universities in 2020 (The number includes co-authored papers)
Fig 2 Distribution of top 100 universities among different countries in 2020
Based on the statistics of source titles, the top 20 journals are shown in Table 4. It can be seen that in recent years more and more biomimetic achievements have been published in the high-level journals such as Advanced Materials, Advanced Functional Materials, Nature Communications etc., indicating that bimimetic research has received more and more attention from academic fields. Currently, there are 8 professional journals in total in the field of biomimetics, and all of them have been included in the WoS (Table 5).
Table 4 The top 20 journals in 2020
Table 5 The professional journals in biomimetics included in the WoS in 2020
In 2020, 135 research areas defined by the WoS are involved in biomimetic research, and mainly distributed in the fields of materials science, engineering, chemistry, science and technology-other topics (Table 6). Biomimetics is a highly interdisciplinary domain, and its research methods involve most of the disciplines of science and engineering. Therefore, it is of great significance to promote multidisciplinary intersection and accelerate the development of biomimetics.
Table 6 Research area distribution of biomimetic research papers in 2020
The increasing number of biomimetic research papers included by WoS indicated that the global biomimetic research activities have been steadily increasing since in recent years, and the countries and universities engaged in biomimetic research have also been on the rise. As a hotspot in scientific research in the new century, biomimetics has been attracting extensive attention of more countries and scholars and will play an increasingly important role in industrial and agricultural production, scientific and technological development, and national defense construction.