Image credit: Tony Hisgett / CC BY 2.0Image credit: Tony Hisgett / CC BY 2.0Hoping to one day reduce the noise given off by wind turbines and aircraft, researchers from Japan and China, inspired by the silent flight of the owl, set out to mimic the design of the owls’ wings.

Publishing their results in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, researchers examined the serrations in the edge of owls’ wings.

"Owls are known for silent flight, owing to their unique wing features, which are normally characterized by leading-edge serrations, trailing-edge fringes and velvet-like surfaces,” said lead author Professor Hao Liu, from Chiba University, Japan.

"We wanted to understand how these features affect aerodynamic force production and noise reduction, and whether they could be applied elsewhere."

Analyzing owl-inspired feather wing models with and without leading edge serrations, researchers determined that the leading edge serrations were critical to aerodynamic force and sound production.

According to Liu, "These owl-inspired leading edge serrations, if applied to wind turbine blades, aircraft wings or drone rotors, could provide a useful biomimetic design for flow control and noise reduction."

"At a time when issues of noise are one of the main barriers to the building of wind turbines, for example, a method for reducing the noise they generate is most welcome."