Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unusual snail shell could be a model for better armor

19.01.2010
Unique structure helps dissipate energy that would cause weaker shells to fracture

New insights about a tiny snail that lives on the ocean floor could help scientists design better armor for soldiers and vehicles, according to MIT researchers.

A team of materials scientists, led by MIT Associate Professor Christine Ortiz, report that the shell of the so-called "scaly-foot" snail is unlike any other naturally occurring or manmade armor. The study suggests that its unique three-layer structure dissipates energy that would cause weaker shells to fracture.

Copying various aspects of the structure could help scientists design better armor for military use, says Ortiz, who is a member of MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. The new study was partly funded by the Army and the Department of Defense and will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Jan. 18.

Ortiz' attention was drawn to this interesting gastropod in 2003, when its discovery was first reported. The snail lives in a relatively harsh environment on the floor of the Indian Ocean, near hydrothermal vents that spew hot water. Therefore it is exposed to fluctuations in temperature as well as high acidity, and also faces attack from predators such as crabs and other snail species.

When a crab attacks a snail, it grasps the snail's shell with its claws and squeezes it until it breaks — for days if necessary. The claws generate mechanical energy that eventually fractures the shell, unless it is strong enough to resist.

In the new paper, Ortiz and her colleagues, including MIT Dean of Engineering Subra Suresh, report that the shell of the hot vent gasotropod has several features that help dissipate mechanical energy from a potential penetrating predatory attack. Of particular importance is its tri-layered shell structure, which consists of an outer layer embedded with iron sulfide granules, a thick organic middle layer, and a calcified inner layer.

Most other snail shells have a calcified layer with a thin organic coating on the outside.. In the scaly foot gastropod, simulations suggest that the relatively thick organic middle layer can absorb much energy during a penetrating attack. It may also help to dissipate heat and thermal fluctuations exhibited near hydrothermal vents.

How they did it: Ortiz and her colleagues measured the mechanical properties of the snail shell using a machine called an indenter, which has a diamond tip. By measuring the force applied to the shell, and the shell's resulting displacement, they can calculate its mechanical properties.

Next steps: Ortiz is looking at host of natural exoskeletons in order to extract protective design principles, including chitons, urchins, beetles, and armored fish.

Source: "Protection mechanisms of the iron-plated armor of a deep-sea hydrothermal vent gastropod," Haimin Yao et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, week of Jan. 18, 2010.

Funding: National Science Foundation, Singapore-MIT Alliance, U.S. Army through the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, Raytheon, and the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship Program.

Jen Hirsch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Switched-on DNA
20.02.2017 | Arizona State University

nachricht Using a simple, scalable method, a material that can be used as a sensor is developed
15.02.2017 | University of the Basque Country

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Start codons in DNA may be more numerous than previously thought

21.02.2017 | Life Sciences

An alternative to opioids? Compound from marine snail is potent pain reliever

21.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Warming ponds could accelerate climate change

21.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>