Department: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Research Institute Affiliation: Graduate Program in Materials Science and Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Joanna M. McKittrick

Primary Student
Name: Jae-young Jung
Email: jaj042@ucsd.edu
Phone: 858-366-3551
Grad Year: 2016

Student Collaborators
Steven E. Naleway, snaleway@eng.ucsd.edu | Kathryn Y. Kang, k5kang@ucsd.edu | Yajur N. Maker, ymaker@eng.ucsd.edu | Vincent Sherman, vsherman@eng.ucsd.edu

Woodpeckers peck at trees up to 20 times per second with speeds of 6-7 m/s all while avoiding brain injury despite undergoing decelerations up to 1200g's. Amongst the adaptations allowing this is a highly functionalized impact-absorption system consisting of the head, beak, tongue and hyoid bone. There have been a few attempts to characterize the effect of the shape and mechanical properties of skull on its anti-shock capability, and even these have focused mainly on finite element analysis and microstructural characterizations. This study aims to examine the anatomical structure, mechanical properties, and compositional constituents of the skull to determine its role in energy absorption and stress dissipation. Four different woodpeckers (Ivory-bellied Woodpecker, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Whited-headed Woodpecker, and Acorn Woodpecker) were assessed through μ-CT to obtain a 3D models along with a control made up of chicken and turkey skulls. Scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy was used to identify the structural and chemical components and nanoindentation was carried out to obtain mechanical properties. Results showed the skull bone from four different woodpeckers are very similar with a smooth and elliptical shape, while chickens and turkeys provided a significantly different structure. This structural difference is proposed to have been evolved to dissipate the stress waves created by pecking. Bioinspired applications will be suggested to prevent traumatic brain injury. This work is supported by a Multi-University Research Initiative through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR-FA9550-15-1-0009).

Industry Application Area(s)
Aerospace, Defense, Security | Life Sciences/Medical Devices & Instruments | Materials

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