Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Squishable seahorses

Engineers Joanna McKittrick and Marc Meyers of the University of California, San Diego, are studying prehensile tail of the seahorse. Not only does it have great grasping ability, but it can be compressed to 50% of its original width before the spinal cord is permanently damaged. The tail is made up of 36 square segments, each composed of 4 L-shaped corner plates that progressively decrease in size along the length of the tail, and are free to pivot and slide past each other (VIDEO HERE). “The study of natural materials can lead to the creation of new and unique materials and structures inspired by nature that are stronger, tougher, lighter and more flexible,” says McKittrick, who hopes their bioinsipiration will allow them to develop a flexible robotic arm that could be used in medical devices, underwater exploration, and remote bomb detection and detonation.

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