New research findings revealing the structure of a sea creature's impact-resistant appendage are inspiring development of advanced materials for possible applications in body armor, helmets and components for buildings and cars.
The "dactyl club" can reach an acceleration of 10,000 g, unleashing a barrage of ferocious impacts with the speed of a .22 caliber bullet. The club is made of a composite material containing fibers of chitin, the same substance found in many marine crustacean shells and insect exoskeletons but arranged in a helicoidal structure that resembles a spiral staircase. Previous research has shown this spiral architecture is naturally designed to survive the repeated high-velocity blows
In new findings, researchers from the University of California, Riverside and Purdue University have revealed that the fibers also are arranged in a herringbone pattern in the appendage's outer layer.