Structural materials: What can we learn from nature?
Trinity Centre for Bioengineering, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
The mechanical properties of materials are of vital importance in the natural world. Over millions of years of evolution, Nature has created materials capable of resisting mechanical forces, in our bodies and in those of other animals and plants. Throughout history human beings have created new materials; in particular many materials developed over the last 100 years have greatly surpassed natural materials in their mechanical properties and durability. So is there anything which Nature can still teach us about making and maintaining structural materials? This talk will consider some of the “tricks” which Nature uses, such as bottom-up fabrication processes, functionally graded structures and materials with the capacity for continual self-monitoring and repair. It will be shown that some of these tricks can be used by materials scientists, but some aspects of the behaviour of natural materials are not suitable for copying into manmade structures.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
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