153. a functional natural adhesive: the feather vane and inspired designs

Department: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Faculty Advisor(s): Marc A. Meyers

Primary Student
Name: Tarah Naoe Sullivan
Email: tnsulliv@ucsd.edu
Phone: 858-822-3953
Grad Year: 2017

Feathers are lightweight, flexible, strong, and spring-like, facilitating a bird's ability to fly. Flight feathers possess a tiered hierarchical structure consisting of the rachis (main shaft), barbs (beams that branch from the rachis) and barbules (beams that branch from barbs). In this research, feathers of the American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) were characterized by optical microscopy and SEM. The flexural behaviour and cohesion of barbules was measured experimentally and analysed using a simplified mechanical model. Results show that the adherence of barbs to one another via barbules enables a united sail-like material for the capture of air. A model for this adhesion mechanism is proposed. The unique structure of the feather could allow for the design and synthesis of new bio-inspired materials and devices. This research is funded by AFOSR MURI (AFOSR-FA9550-15-1-0009).

Industry Application Area(s)
Aerospace, Defense, Security | Materials

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