The mantis shrimp is one of the most powerful, colorful and beautiful creatures. But you won’t find them in a glass aquarium because of their incredible ability to smash through the glass. Now the hammer-like rounded claws of the mantis shrimp have inspired a group of researchers to build super-strong materials such as military armor and football helmets.
Mantil shrimp attacks with 10,000g force
The little creature uses a club to crack open the hard shells of crabs with 10,000g force, which is similar to a .22 caliber bullet. Scientists at the University of California, Riverside and Purdue University studying the shrimp discovered that it had an unusual “herringbone” structure in the outer layer of the fist-like appendage (called the dactyl club) that it uses to attack the prey.
The herringbone structure allows the shrimp to smash prey with incredible force, while helping the dactyl club withstand the force of the strike. Co-author David Kisailus of the University of California, Riverside, said in a statement that the creature has evolved the exceptionally strong and impact-resistant club to be able to eat. Kisailus says the mantis shrimp’s multilayered structural designs could help researchers design better armor, airplanes, and sports equipment.
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The herringbone enables the shrimp to inflict damage
The herringbone is made up of crystalline calcium phosphate and chitin fibers. Scientists say the unique structure of the herringbone not only protects the dactyl club, but also enables the shrimp “to inflict incredible damage to its prey.” Kisailus believes the herringbone’s mechanisms include formations that allow buckling instead of cracking under pressure. The dactyl club also has a thin coating that “delocalizes stress.”
Inspired by the shrimp, researchers were able to fabricate the herringbone structure using 3D printing technology. It confirmed that the unique structure helps distribute the force of impact to reduce stress on the club during use. Scientists said the research has the potential to lead to the creation of military armor from the same arrangements used by the mantis shrimp. Findings of the study are set to be published in the journal Advanced Materials.