Aeroacoustics expert Nigel Peake of Cambridge University leads a group of engineers mimicking owl wing feathers to reduce noise on wind turbines.
Peake's team joined researchers from Virginia Tech, Lehigh and Florida Atlantic to examine why owls can fly so silently. Peake said:
No other bird has this sort of intricate wing structure. Much of the noise caused by a wing – whether it's attached to a bird, a plane, or a fan – originates at the trailing edge, where the air passing over the wing surface is turbulent. The structure of an owl's wing serves to reduce the noise by smoothing the passage of the air as it passes over the wing – scattering the sound so their prey can't hear them coming.