A lightweight and impact-resistant material inspired by the mantis shrimp could help usher in a new generation of ultra-strong composites with a wide range of applications.
The material was developed by researchers from the University of Riverside, who spent over a decade reverse-engineering the mantis shrimp’s incredibly strong club it uses to smash its hard-shelled prey. The team determined that the club’s strength was due to its structure of sheets of parallel fibers stacked in skewed angles called a helicoid. Resembling twisted plywood, the helicoid structure dissipates energy to help prevent cracks, resulting in its extraordinary impact resistance while still remaining lightweight.
The unique structural design has been patented by UCR and licensed to Helicoid Industries, and could find its way into industries ranging from sporting goods to automobiles to wind turbines.