Mantis Shrimp Fist Inspires Researchers to Develop Super-Tough Material for Airplanes [Video]
Researchers at University of California, Riverside, and colleagues have modeled a tough material after the fist-like club of a mantis shrimp. The team says that the new material is stronger than materials used to build airplanes.
The inspiration for the impact-resistant structure was the peacock mantis shrimp, or stomatopod. Its fist accelerates with a speed of 22-calibur bullet and can shear water.
Despite being used for thousands of times, the club doesn't break, which is why researchers wanted to study its structure.
"The more we study the club of this tiny crustacean, the more we realize its structure could improve so many things we use every day," said David Kisailus, at the UC Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering, according to a news release.
The research was funded by Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation and is published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia.
Previous research has shown that the mantis shrimp club has several regions including an endocuticle region, which has mineralized fiber layers. These layers are arranged in a spiral fashion and act as shock absorbers.
In the present study, researchers created carbon fiber-epoxy composites modeled after the spiral or helicoidal, layered design of the mantis club.
Researchers even conducted tests to gauge the strength of the new material. They created two control structures. One was unidimensional, where the material layers were placed directly on top of one another. The second structure was quasi-isotropic, in which the layers were arranged in an alternating manner. The layers differed in orientation; first layer placed at 0 degrees, the second at -45, the third at +45 degrees and fourth at 90 degrees and so on.
Researchers found that the helicoids structure was better at resisting external damage than both the control structures.
According to the researchers, these structures could be used in aerospace and automotive industries. In the armed forces the material could serve as a body armor for soldiers.
"Biology has an incredible diversity of species, which can provide us new design cues and synthetic routes to the next generation of advanced materials for light-weight automobiles, aircraft and other structural applications," Kisailus said in a news release.