Researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are looking to a strange place to try to improve the ceramics used in artificial joints and body armor for the military: The mantis shrimp. The research could lead to an exponential increase in the strength of the ceramics used by the military and the biotechnology fields.
The study looked how the mantis shrimp has the ability to shatter aquarium glass and crab shells with ease. The mantis shrimp has the ability to strike its prey with the speed of a 5.56mm rifle bullet. Each impact generates about 110 pounds of force which is several hundreds of times larger than the weight of the shrimp it self.
"The highly damage resistant property of the mantis shrimp could be most useful in medical products such as hip and joint implants, as they sustain impacts hundreds of times daily during walking and daily activities," said Asst Prof Miserez.
The researchers look at the club that the mantis shrimp uses to strike its foes and found that it is woven together in a unique fashion to create a structure tougher than many engineered ceramics.
Then the asst professor went on to make one of the worst puns I have heard in a while. Miserez said "Damaged hip implants are a real problem, and cost billions of dollars to the healthcare systems worldwide. They also cause painful surgeries to patients when they need to be replaced. Using a nature-inspired blueprint to design biocompatible implants is actually a 'shrimple' solution."
Ugh, I know it was terrible. Yet in spite of the terrible pun, this kind of research that uses naturally incurred designs has always helped us make our lives better, and if this could save us billions of dollars then I say go for it.
The final product will be used for a lot of things being that it is lighter in weight and more impact resistant then any other materials currently available.
Here is a video of the mantis shrimp using its club to open up a clam: