Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Deriving Inspiration from the Dragon Tree

09.09.2016

Researchers demonstrate how a branch–stem attachment could serve as a model for technical fiber-reinforced lightweight ramifications

Could dragon trees serve as a source of inspiration for innovations in lightweight construction? A team of researchers at the University of Freiburg and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has laid the groundwork for designing technical fiber-reinforced lightweight ramifications modeled on branch–stem attachments.


This three-dimensional representation of the outer surface (left) and the entire vascular system (right) of the branch–stem attachment of the dragon tree shows which tissues inside the plant are displaced in a loaded state (yellow) in comparison to an unloaded state (red).

With the help of high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging techniques, the scientists succeeded in observing how the tissue of a living dragon tree is displaced when subjected to a load. In the future, technical fiber-reinforced lightweight ramifications with structures and behavior similar to that of the natural model could be used to improve architectural supporting structures, bicycle frames, or automobile bodies. The team published the findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

Research groups led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck, head of the Plant Biomechanics Group and director of the University of Freiburg Botanical Garden, and Prof. Dr. Jan G. Korvink, head of the Institute of Microstructure Technology at KIT, developed a new type of experimental setup for the study.

The biologist Linnea Hesse from the University of Freiburg and the medical physicist Dr. Jochen Leipold from the Department of Radiology – Medical Physics at the Freiburg University Medical Center began by imaging the inside of a dragon tree stem and branch in an unloaded state with the help of a magnetic resonance imaging device (MRT). They then used a mechanical arm controlled from outside of the MRI device to bend the branch and again imaged the internal structure of the plant. The scientists created three-dimensional computer models of the two sets of images.

These models allowed them to compare how the tissues that stabilize the plant behave under these conditions and how they are displaced in response to a load – including both the vascular bundles that transport substances and fluids within the plant and the fiber caps that surround and protect these vascular bundles.

In doing so, the scientists observed the entire branch–stem attachment as well as the individual vascular bundles to track with great precision the changes they undergo when subjected to a load. Depending on their position in the branch, the bundles and the caps stretch lengthwise to absorb a tensile load or are pressed crosswise against the surrounding tissue to cushion it against compressive stress.

The findings will now serve as a basis for developing technical fiber-reinforced lightweight ramifications – with the goal of further improving lightweight and stable materials using a natural model.

Original publication:
Hesse, L., Masselter, T., Leupold, J., Spengler, N., Speck, T., Korvink, J.G.: Magnetic resonance imaging reveals functional anatomy and biomechanics of a living dragon tree. Sci. Rep. 6, 32685; doi: 10.1038/srep32685 (2016).

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck
Plant Biomechanics Group
University of Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761/203-2875
E-Mail: thomas.speck@biologie.uni-freiburg.de

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.pr.uni-freiburg.de/pm/2016/pm.2016-09-08.124-en?set_language=en

Rudolf-Werner Dreier | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells
11.12.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires
07.12.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

Large-scale battery storage system in field trial

11.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>