Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists study biomechanics behind amazing ant strength

21.05.2014

OSU’s Castro leverages OSC systems to study 3-D model of ant anatomy

A recent study into the biomechanics of the necks of ants – a common insect that can amazingly lift objects many times heavier than its own body – might unlock one of nature’s little mysteries and, quite possibly, open the door to advancements in robotic engineering.


A small group of engineers at The Ohio State University combined laboratory testing and computational modeling conducted at the Ohio Supercomputer Center to determine the relationship between the mechanical function, structural design and material properties of the Allegheny mound ant (Formica exsectoides). Their results were recently published in an article, “The exoskeletal structure and tensile loading behavior of an ant neck joint,” in the Journal of Biomechanics.

The study focused on the ant’s neck – the single joint of soft tissue that bridges the stiff exoskeleton of the ant’s head and thorax. When an ant carries food or any other object, the neck joint supports the full weight of the load.

“Loads are lifted with the mouthparts, transferred through the neck joint to the thorax, and distributed over six legs and tarsi that anchor to the supporting surface,” explained Carlos Castro, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Ohio State. “While previous research has explored attachment mechanisms of the tarsi (feet), little is known about the relation between the mechanical function and the structural design and material properties of the ant.”

To better understand the strengths and upper limits of the ant’s neck, the researchers reverse-engineered the biomechanics by developing 3-D models of the of the ant’s internal and external anatomy. The models were created by importing X-ray cross-section images (microCT) of ant specimens into a modeling program (ScanIPþFE) that assembled the segments and converted them into a mesh frame model of more than 6.5 million elements.

The model then was loaded into a finite element analysis program (Abaqus), an application that creates accurate simulations of complex geometries and forces, and the data was processed on the powerful Oakley Cluster, an array of 8,300 processor cores (Intel Xeon) at the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

The simulations were run in conjunction with lab experiments that used a centrifuge to measure changes in the ants’ anatomies under a range of calculated loads. The experiments revealed that the neck joints could withstand loads of about 5,000 times the ant’s body weight, and that the ant’s neck-joint structure produced the highest strength when its head was aligned straight, as opposed to turned to either side.

“Our results accurately pinpoint the stress concentration that leads to neck failure and identify the soft-to-hard material interface at the neck-to-head transition as the location of failure,” said Castro. “The design and structure of this interface is critical for the performance of the neck joint. The unique interface between hard and soft materials likely strengthens the adhesion and may be a key structural design feature that enables the large load capacity of the neck joint.”

The simulations confirmed the joint’s directional strength and, consistent with the experimental results, indicated that the critical point for failure of the neck joint is at the neck-to-head transition, where soft membrane meets the hard exoskeleton.

“The neck joint [of the ant] is a complex and highly integrated mechanical system. Efforts to understand the structure-function relationship in this system will contribute to the understanding of the design paradigms for optimized exoskeleton mechanisms,” said former Ohio State student Vienny N. Nguyen in her 2012 master’s thesis on this research. Nguyen, now a robotics engineer at Johnson Space Center, earlier worked on the project under the supervision of Blaine Lilly, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Ohio State. Nguyen and Lilly are co-authors with Castro on the journal paper.

“As we look to the future of human-assistive devices and ultra-light robotics,” she said, “the development of 3-dimensional models for visual analysis and loading and kinematic simulation will also serve as tools for evaluating and comparing the functional morphology of multiple species and types of joints.”

This project was supported by funding from Ohio State’s Institute for Materials Research and Nguyen’s National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship.

The Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC), a member of the Ohio Technology Consortium of the Ohio Board of Regents, addresses the rising computational demands of academic and industrial research communities by providing a robust shared infrastructure and proven expertise in advanced modeling, simulation and analysis. OSC empowers scientists with the vital resources essential to make extraordinary discoveries and innovations, partners with businesses and industry to leverage computational science as a competitive force in the global knowledge economy, and leads efforts to equip the workforce with the key technology skills required to secure 21st century jobs. For more, visit www.osc.edu.

The Institute for Materials Research (IMR) is the gateway to materials-allied research at The Ohio State University. IMR is a campus-wide, multidisciplinary institute that works with OSU colleges and departments to augment and synergistically advance their goals. IMR facilitates, promotes and coordinates research activities and infrastructure related to the science and engineering of materials throughout The Ohio State University. For more, visit: imr.osu.edu.

Jamie Abel | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
https://www.osc.edu/press/scientists_study_biomechanics_behind_amazing_ant_strength

Further reports about: Cluster OSC OSU Supercomputer Xeon function insect mechanisms transition weight

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Stress triggers key molecule to halt transcription of cell's genetic code
28.05.2015 | Stowers Institute for Medical Research

nachricht Chemists discover key reaction mechanism behind the highly touted sodium-oxygen battery
28.05.2015 | University of Waterloo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Solid-state photonics goes extreme ultraviolet

Using ultrashort laser pulses, scientists in Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have demonstrated the emission of extreme ultraviolet radiation from thin dielectric films and have investigated the underlying mechanisms.

In 1961, only shortly after the invention of the first laser, scientists exposed silicon dioxide crystals (also known as quartz) to an intense ruby laser to...

Im Focus: Advance in regenerative medicine

The only professorship in Germany to date, one master's programme, one laboratory with worldwide unique equipment and the corresponding research results: The University of Würzburg is leading in the field of biofabrication.

Paul Dalton is presently the only professor of biofabrication in Germany. About a year ago, the Australian researcher relocated to the Würzburg department for...

Im Focus: Basel Physicists Develop Efficient Method of Signal Transmission from Nanocomponents

Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.

Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...

Im Focus: IoT-based Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation System

Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services

To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...

Im Focus: First electrical car ferry in the world in operation in Norway now

  • Siemens delivers electric propulsion system and charging stations with lithium-ion batteries charged from hydro power
  • Ferry only uses 150 kilowatt hours (kWh) per route and reduces cost of fuel by 60 percent
  • Milestone on the road to operating emission-free ferries

The world's first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. The ferry only uses 150 kWh per route, which...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International symposium: trends in spatial analysis and modelling for a more sustainable land use

20.05.2015 | Event News

15th conference of the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists

18.05.2015 | Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing health in Europe. Balancing priorities, sharing responsibilities

12.05.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Siemens will provide the first H-class power plant technology in Mexico

28.05.2015 | Press release

Merging galaxies break radio silence

28.05.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

A New Kind of Wood Chip: Collaboration Could Yield Biodegradable Computer Chips

28.05.2015 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>