Friday 14 June 2019

The mantis shrimp's perfect shield

JUNE 10, 2019
How do you protect yourself from the perfect striking weapon? You develop the perfect shield.
If you're a mantis shrimp with a clublike arm tough enough to crack clamshells, you'd better not get into any fights with your pals. But the tiny crustaceans, among the ocean's feistiest creatures, can't resist taking swipes at each other over habitat, so they evolved a specialized shield in their tail segment called a telson that absorbs the blows. The telson is a multiscale structure with ridges on the outside and a structure shaped like a spiral staircase on the inside. It's inspiring a new class of lightweight, impact-resistant materials for helmets, cars, and more.
Research led by David Kisailus, the Winston Chung Endowed Professor in Energy Innovation at UC Riverside's Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering; and Pablo Zavattieri, a professor and University Faculty Scholar at Purdue's Lyles School of Civil Engineering have unlocked the telson's secret—with an eye toward creating better materials for sports, aerospace, and a multitude of other applications.
Kisailus, whose lab investigates biological composite structures as inspiration for new materials, said a paper by Duke University's Sheila Patek about the telson's ability to absorb energy, inspired him to investigate the role multiscale architectural features have on impact resistance.

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