Materials Science

Something fishy about synthetic armor

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Science  27 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6229, pp. 1433
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6229.1433-f

Fish scales inspire flexible armor

PHOTO: ATASHA FUNK, MARK STOYKOVICH AND FRANCK J. VERNEREY

Many fish are covered in rigid scales attached to a flexible dermis layer, an arrangement that is compliant, resistant to penetration, and lightweight—in other words, an efficient coat of armor. Fink et al. use this as inspiration for a synthetic protective material based on a stretchable mesh that supports a set of hard plastic tiles. The mesh, made from periodically repeating, sinusoidal polypropylene fibers, provides in-plane elasticity and holds the scales, made from cellulose acetate butyrate, in place as the material is deformed. It also provides a mechanism for scales to rotate and interact with adjacent scales. The mechanical response during in-plane deformation, flexure, and indentation showed many of the advantageous attributes of its biological counterpart.

ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 10.1021/acsami.5b00258 (2015).

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