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ResearchslashSRA 03

Project 3.5.1: Biological and Bio-inspired Reconfigurable Flexible & Protective Joints

Protective joints are utilized in a variety of protective, transportation, infrastructure and construction applications and represent a critical design component to producing robust segmented protection systems. The need for joint designs that preserve the protective function of the material, are mechanically resilient and robust (deformable, strong, tough) while permitting the required degrees of motion for conformability and mobility is a challenge that, when met, will provide dramatic gains in soldier protection and mobility. In this research program, we propose to study dynamically reconfigurable vertebrate biological and bio-inspired protection unit interconnections (joints) in segmented articulating systems of a number of selected model species using a multidisciplinary experimental (Ortiz; materials science and engineering) / theoretical (Boyce; mechanical engineering) / fabrication / design (Oxman; architecture, media arts and sciences) approach to understanding structure-property-function relations. Three model systems will be investigated; 1) suture joints, including the pelvic suture of the armored fish Gasterosteus aculeatus (threespine stickleback) and the hierarchical (fractal) suture joint of the extinct marine invertebrate Cephalopoda, the ammonoids; 2) the functionally graded spine-test ball-and-socket joint of the echinoderm Heterocentrotus mammillatus (pencil urchin) and 3) the exoskeletal curved hinge joints of the crustacean Litopenaeus vannamei . Biological protective joints will be imaged in three-dimensions using X-ray microcomputed tomography, scanning and transmission electron microscopy and then these data will be used to fabricate, experimentally test and simulate computationally the mechanical behavior of macroscopic 3D printed bio-inspired protective joint prototypes in order to elucidate universal biomechamical design principles and to create new bio-inspired hybrid flexible protective designs.


Project 3.5.1 Researchers

Prof. Christine Ortiz, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Prof. Mary Boyce, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Prof. Neri Oxman, MIT Media Lab

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