54. energy absorbent natural keratin materials and bioinspired designs

Department: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Research Institute Affiliation: CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials & Systems
Faculty Advisor(s): Joanna M. McKittrick

Primary Student
Name: Wei Huang
Email: w7huang@ucsd.edu
Phone: 858-263-5350
Grad Year: 2018

Keratinized tissues found in nature were efficient impact resistant and energy absorbent materials. Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) horns can absorb most of the impact energy during the intraspecific fights at a speed ~ 9 m/s (20 mph). Horse (Equus ferus caballus) hooves protect the inside bony skeletons by dissipating the energy transmitted from the uneven ground surfaces. Hierarchical structures of horn and hoof were characterized and summarized. The arrangements of keratinized cells are different in horn and hoof, leading to a difference in the orientations of intermediate filaments (crystalline alpha-keratin) inside the keratin cells. As a result, the differences of mechanical behaviors between horn and hoof were noticed and compared. Bioinspired energy absorption materials were fabricated based on the design rules found in horn and hoof using a 3D printing method. 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 | Civil/Structural Engineering | Life Sciences/Medical Devices & Instruments

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