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Seahorse tails provide inspiration for robotics, body armor

By Shane Graber - Posted May 02, 2013 11:00 AM
Researchers evaluating natural ways of making something both strong and flexible often take inspiration from nature. In this case, they are looking at seahorse tails due to their strong, flexible properties.
Seahorse tails provide inspiration for robotics, body armor

Image of a mature seahorse (Hippocampus kuda) showing the locations where tail sections, composed of three bony segments each, were cut (dotted lines) for compression testing (LEFT). μCT scan of a juvenile seahorse skeleton (Hippocampus kuda) (RIGHT).

Squid beaks aren't the only inspiration for next-generation devices that require hard, yet flexible materials.

Published this week in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, researchers Porter, Novitskaya, and others probe the interesting properties of seahorse tails to see if their flexible, bony structure could somehow yield ideas into new robotic devices for gripping, body armor, or fracture-resistant structures.

What they found was the tails of seahorses are comprised of interesting bony plates arranged in a ring-like shape that allows segments to slide past one another when twisted or bent yielding a strong, flexible structure that is ideal for both protection and for strongly gripping things while remaining flexible and compressible.

Author: Shane Graber
Location: Indiana

Shane has kept saltwater tanks for the last 12 years, is a research scientist, lives in northern Indiana, and is a proud Advanced Aquarist staffer.


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