Flying By The Skin of Your Teeth Could Be Key To Greening Aviation Industry

teeth design biomimicry photo
Your teeth are only as strong as glass, but they can withstand years of you crunching on granola bars. How is this? The key is that teeth form microscopic cracks jig-jagged in shape, instead of big ones, in order to alleviate sudden impact and stress on your teeth.

It is these micro-cracks in teeth, say Tel Aviv University researchers in a new study, first to describe how the phenomenon works, that can be used in biomimicry for creating lighter and safer airplanes. "Teeth are made from an extremely sophisticated composite material which reacts in an extraordinary way under pressure," says Prof. Haim Chai from Tel Aviv University.

"Teeth exhibit graded mechanical properties and a cathedral-like geometry, and over time they develop a network of micro-cracks which help diffuse stress. This, and the tooth's built-in ability to heal the micro-cracks over time, prevents it from fracturing into large pieces when we eat hard food, like nuts."

Understanding how to replicate these cracks in composite materials, confirms Prof. Chai, can lead to a new class of lighter yet stronger aircraft and spacecraft, ones that can withstand crash landings from a short distance, much in the same way our teeth survive after a long session of eating peanut brittle (organic peanut brittle of course).

For more on this research, see the American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

[image via]

More on biomimicry:
San Diego Zoo Leads The Way in Biomimicry
TreeHugger Forums Discuss Biomimicry in Design
Jenine Benyus On Biomimicry And Design on TH Radio
Designing From Nature at Jerusalem's Green Design Conference

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