Researchers from the University of California, Riverside have developed a composite material which has been inspired by a shrimp that possesses a tough fist-like club. The composite material stands to be more impact resistant and tougher than the one used in airplanes.
The 4-6 inch long mantis shrimp with a fist-like club that can accelerate underwater faster than a bullet and break the glass of aquarium tanks without breaking, inspired the scientists to study it and design a material which harbours its durability. The club of the shrimp is so powerful that it literally boils the water around it as it accelerates through. The researchers found that the club is composed of a several regions including an endocuticle region which has a spiralling or helicoidal arrangement of fibre that acts as shock absorber. Each layer in the region is rotated by a small angle from the one below, completing a 180-degree rotation.
The scientists imitated this pattern in a carbon fiber-epoxy composite with layers at three different helicoidal angles ranging from about 10 to 25 degrees and built another structure, which is the standard used in the aerospace industry. Both the structures were put through impact testing in a similar fashion used by the aircraft industry. The result showed that the helicoidal structure did not puncture while the industry standard totally split and failed.
The research could lead to better materials for aerospace, automotive frames, body armour and football helmets.