Researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences took inspiration from the skeletons of sea sponges and proposed a method for constructing the next generation of stronger and higher buildings, long bridges and lightweight spacecraft.
If you’ve ever walked a covered bridge or assembled a metal storage shelf, you’re familiar with diagonal lattice architectures. This type of construction uses many small, closely spaced diagonal beams to distribute the applied loads evenly.
Now American engineers have published an article in the journal Nature Materials, where they showed that the skeleton of the sea sponges of the species Euplectella aspergillum has an architecture, the mechanical characteristics of which are better than traditional structures. The researchers copied the skeleton of a sea sponge and recreated it in the laboratory. The authors then analyzed the loads and resistances in the structure and found that it had the highest flexural resistance possible for a given amount of material.
To maintain the optimal shape of its tubular body, Euplectella aspergillum employs two sets of parallel diagonal skeletal tubules that intersect with a square grid to form a strong checkerboard pattern. Scientists have shown that this structure improves the overall strength of the structure by more than 20%, without the need to reinforce the structure with additional material.
The results of the work will help to create engineering structures with high bending resistance and increased wear resistance. This can be used, for example, in the construction of bridges, high-rise buildings and other structures in which the supports are constantly subjected to high loads.