External Covering of Invertebrates May Help Create Damage Tolerant Materials for Future Building and Construction

At Monash University, scientists have come up with a new design motif that has been derived from the stiff external covering of invertebrates that might help in making more damage tolerant materials for building and construction in the future.

External Covering of Invertebrates May Help Create Damage Tolerant Materials for Future Building and Construction.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/Bannafarsai_Stock

In a study reported in the journal Nature Communications, Professor Wenhui Duan from the Department of Civil Engineering at Monash University states that the new pattern, adding to the eight known and common biological structural design patterns, can add a high strength motif to generally utilized building materials like composites and cement, and might help decrease carbon emissions.

The cement industry is known to be one of the biggest producers of carbon dioxide, thereby creating up to 8% of global man-made emissions of this gas. This breakthrough will help in decreasing the use of cement by enhancing the damage tolerance of the material.

The research group duplicated the design motif in cement material, which is considered one of the most consumed construction materials used globally. They approved a 3D printing method integrated with nanotechnology and artificial intelligence to construct a lightweight cement composite that adopted this segmental design motif. This illustrates an excellent load-bearing capacity and a special advanced failure pattern.

We demonstrated the application of this design motif in producing a high strength, damage tolerant lightweight cement material. In addition, this design motif can also be applied to various materials such as ceramic, glass, polymeric and metallic materials for advanced materials design, energy storage/conversion, and architectural structures, in collaboration with the teams from University of Queensland and University of Manchester.

Wenhui Duan, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University

Right from the 1972 breakthrough of the helical structure, one of the most general structural patterns in biology, there has been a drive to withdraw design motifs from over 7 million living species in the world to help the fabrication of structured or structural materials.

After performing research for nearly five decades, exceptional repetitions have been verified in a majority of the classes of species but only eight categories of design motifs have ever been removed and adopted in materials design so far.

The new design structure has been determined in numerous species like the legs of mammals, the exoskeletons of arthropods, reptiles and amphibians. Such design motifs are useful sources of inspiration for modern materials design and help in the fabrication of structural materials.

Compared to the current design motif, our segmental design motif dissipates the energy by segment rotation. The beauty of our discovered design motif is that the material can exhibit a unique periodic progressive failure behavior.

Wenhui Duan, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University

Duan added, “It means we can contain the damage within a particular region of material, while the rest of the structure can still maintain the integrity and most (around 80%) of load-bearing capacity.”

Journal Reference:

Wang, W., et al. (2022) Damage-tolerant material design motif derived from asymmetrical rotation. Nature Communications. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-28991-5.

Source: https://www.monash.edu/

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