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Nature inspires shock absorbing materials

Engineers are working to create architected materials with microstructures that can outperform the natural systems that inspired them.

The team is focused, in part, on improving the energy absorption of materials to increase safety and comfort. Think earthquake-resilient buildings, low turbulence air travel, safer sports helmets, and scratch- and dent-resistant cars. And some of their inspiration is coming from solutions evolution has engineered into natural materials, from honeycombs to woodpecker beaks.

“The good thing about these materials is that they can be used for energy absorption for protection. This could be—we are protecting somebody, we are protecting a structure, we are protecting a device,” says Pablo Zavattieri, professor of civil engineering of Purdue University.

The National Science Foundation supported the research. Additional researchers are from Purdue and General Motors Global R&D.

Source: National Science Foundation