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Biomimetic Research Image 4
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Biomimetic Research (Image 4)

June 23, 2010
Biomimetic Research (Image 4) A new type of metallic laminate that is expected to be useful as armor and as a replacement for beryllium, a strong but toxic metal commonly used in demanding aerospace applications. Developed by engineering professor Kenneth S. Vecchio of the Jacobs School of Engineering, University of California, San Diego, the new material is comprised of alternated layers of aluminum and titanium alloy foils and compressed and heated in an inexpensive, energy-conserving process. The resulting reaction generates a laminate with two layers: a hard ceramic-like "intermetallic" layer of titanium aluminide, and a pliable layer of residual titanium alloy. The layers can be stacked like one-millimeter-thick pages of a book and even contoured into desired shapes prior to heating. The laminate architecture was chosen by Vecchio to mimic the internal structure of the tough shell of the red abalone. This science-mimicking-biology is known as biomimetic research, and researchers at Jacobs are studying structural and functional designs of everything from mollusk shells and bird bills to sea urchin spines and other biocomposites in the development of new smart materials and devices. [This research was supported by the National Science Foundation.] (Date of Image: 2005) [Image 4 of 8 related images. See Next Image .]