Ten Materials Inspired By Mother Nature (VIDEO)

The natural world is filled with strange, fascinating structures that are stronger, more flexible and more resilient than anything humans can make.

10. Mantis shrimp’s dactyl clubs

Photo: Elias Levy/Flickr/CC
Photo: Elias Levy/Flickr/CC

Mantis shrimps are highly aggressive shallow-water crustaceans which use a pair of powerful hammer-like structures, called dactyl clubs, to shatter the hard shells of their prey. Remarkably, this kinematic movement operates entirely underwater, which has a much higher hydrodynamic resistance than air. Yet, at nearly 25 m/s, this movement is one of the fastest in the animal kingdom. Mantis shrimps are also literally able to punch way above their weight, launching strikes with a force that is up to 1,000 times their own body weight.

My lab has unveiled the main mechanisms behind the dactyl club’s impact resistance, demonstrating how these clubs can deliver powerful strikes without sustaining catastrophic self-damage. We discovered that the clubs are made of nanorods of fluorapatite—a mineral closely related to hydroxyapatite in mammalian bones and teeth—that can rotate and slide past each other under impact, leading to shock absorption.

Future applications for this recently discovered nanostructure include fatigue-resistant hip implants, bioceramics-based armors with ultra-high impact resistance, and other types of protective structures.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Ali Miserez is an assistant professor at the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

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