New discovery in animal exoskeletons leads to advances in the design of building materials – ScienceDaily

Monash University researchers have discovered a new design motif derived from the rigid outer shell of invertebrates that may help create more damage-tolerant materials for future buildings and structures.

In a publication in nature communicationProfessor Wenhui Duan of Monash University’s Faculty of Civil Engineering says the new pattern, which adds to the eight well-known and common biological construction patterns, can give commonly used construction materials such as composites and cement a high-strength motif and help reduce CO2 emissions.

The cement industry is one of the largest producers of carbon dioxide, causing up to 8% of the world’s man-made emissions of this gas; This discovery will help reduce the use of cement by improving the material’s damage tolerance.

The research team replicated the design motif in cement material, one of the most consumed building materials in the world. They used a 3D printing technique combined with nanotechnology and artificial intelligence to create a lightweight cement composite that incorporated this segmental design motif and demonstrated superior load-bearing capacity and a unique progressive fracture pattern.

“We have demonstrated the application of this design motif in the manufacture of a high strength, damage tolerant, lightweight cementitious material. Additionally, this design motif can also be applied to diverse materials such as ceramics, glass, polymer and metal materials for advanced material design, energy storage/conversion and architectural structures, in collaboration with the University of Queensland and University of Manchester teams,” says Professor duan

Since the discovery of helical structure in 1972, one of the most common structural patterns in biology, there have been efforts to extract design motifs from more than 7 million living species around the world to aid in the fabrication of structured/structural materials.

After almost 50 years of research, remarkable repetitions have been confirmed in most classes of species, but so far only eight categories of design motifs have been extracted and incorporated into material design.

The new design structure has been identified in various species such as the exoskeletons of arthropods, the legs of mammals, amphibians and reptiles. These design motifs are valuable sources of inspiration for modern material design and help in the production of construction materials.

“Compared to the current design theme, our segmental design theme dissipates energy through segment rotation. The beauty of our discovered design motif is that the material can exhibit a unique periodically progressive failure behavior. This means we can confine damage to a specific region of the material while still allowing the rest of the structure to maintain integrity and most (roughly 80%) of the load-bearing capacity.

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Materials provided by Monash University. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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