The funding, which will be distributed over five years, comes from the Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program. This particular grant, managed by Hugh DeLong, department head of complex materials & devices, comes from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, one of the military research offices which awards MURI grants.
With the funding the researchers will study more than 20 organisms, including mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, insects and plants. Examples include: light-weight, tough and durable materials with cellular structures such as the stem of bamboo; the beak of a toucan; layered structures from shells of marine snails and antlers from mammals; twisted plywood structures found in crustacean structures such as the club of mantis shrimp; and insect cuticles.
These structures are particularly interesting because they are composed of relatively simple biological materials such as keratin found in fingernails, yet display incredible mechanical performance. The team will also reach back in history, looking at dynamic evolutionary processes such as the structure of the extinct trilobite, which existed for more than 200 million years by adapting to its environment.
The research program utilizes four interwoven thrusts, including the ultrastructural and mechanical investigation of these organisms, development of mathematical models of their structures and new design, fabrication of biomimetic structures that emulate features found in both natural systems and theory-based designs in order to underpin their tough, strong structures. Finally, the team will conduct comparative evolutionary analyses to pinpoint design principle
|Contact: Sean Nealon|
University of California - Riverside