Examining the structure of deer antlers at the nano-level has lead researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) to discover what makes these antlers resist breaking during fights.
The team from QMUL looked at the cell structure of antlers, which are incredibly small, and were able to identify that the fibrils that make up deer antlers are staggered rather than in line with each other. This allows them to absorb the energy from the impact of a clash during a fight.
The research fills in a previous gap in the area of structural modelling of bone, and opens up new possibilities for creating a new generation of materials that can resist damage.
Researchers then took what they learned from the nanostructures to create a 3-D-printed model with fibers arranged in staggered configuration and linked by an elastic interface.
“The aim is to prove that additive manufacturing—where a prototype can be created a layer at a time—can be used to create damage-resistant composite material,” says Dr. Ettore Barbieri, from QMUL’s School of Engineering and Materials Science.