HomeChemistryNew discovery in animal exoskeletons leads to advances in designing construction materials

New discovery in animal exoskeletons leads to advances in designing construction materials

Monash University researchers have discovered a new design motif derived from the rigid external covering of invertebrates. It can help in creating more damage tolerant materials for future building and construction. The study was published in Nature Communications.

Scientists said the new pattern can add a high strength motif to commonly used building materials like composites and cement. This can also help in reducing carbon emissions.

The cement industry is one of the largest producers of carbon dioxide. This creates up to 8% of worldwide man-made emissions of this gas. This discovery will assist in reducing the use of cement by improving the material’s damage tolerance.

Scientists replicated the design motif in cement material which is one of the most consumed construction materials in the world. Scientists adopted a 3D printing technique combined with nanotechnology and artificial intelligence to fabricate a lightweight cement composite which adopted this segmental design motif. This demonstrates a superior load-bearing capacity and a unique progressive failure pattern.

There has been a drive to extract design motifs from more than 7 million living species in the world to aid the fabrication of structured/structural materials, since the 1972 discovery of the helical structure.

Remarkable repetitions have been confirmed in most classes of species, after almost 50 years of research. But only eight categories of design motifs have ever been extracted and adopted in materials design.

The new design structure has been identified in various species like exoskeletons of arthropods, the legs of mammals, amphibians and reptiles. These design motifs are valuable sources of inspiration for modern materials design.


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