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Scientists find that squid beak is both hard and soft, a material that engineers want to copy
Date:3/27/2008

ally made sandwiches, often called calamari steak sandwiches.

Waite finds the squid beak compelling and he interested postdoctoral researcher and first author Ali Miserez in joining the study. Miserez is affiliated with UCSBs Department of Materials, the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB), and the Marine Science Institute.

Id always been skeptical of whether there is any real advantage to functionally graded materials, but the squid beak turned me into a believer, said co-author Frank Zok, professor and associate chair of the Department of Materials at UC Santa Barbara.

Here you have a cutting tool thats extremely hard and stiff at its tip and is attached to a material the muscular buccal mass that has the consistency of Jell-o, said Zok.

You can imagine the problems youd encounter if you attached a knife blade to a block of Jell-o and tried to use that blade for cutting. The blade would cut through the Jell-o at least as much as the targeted object. In the case of the squid beak, nature takes care of the problem by changing the beak composition progressively, rather than abruptly, so that its tip can pierce prey without harming the squid in the process. Its a truly fascinating design!

Zok explained that most engineered structures are made of combinations of very different materials such as ceramics, metals and plastics. Joining them together requires either some sort of mechanical attachment like a rivet, a nut and bolt, or an adhesive such as epoxy. But these approaches have limitations.

If we could reproduce the property gradients that we find in squid beak, it would open new possibilities for joining materials, explained Zok. For example, if you graded an adhesive to make its properties match one material on one side and the other material on the other side, you could potentially form a much more robust bond, he said. This could really revolutionize the way engine
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Contact: Gail Gallessich
gail.g@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert

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