Desert sandstorms are rough on helicopter blades and fans, thanks mostly to erosion caused by relentless impacts from tiny dust particles. So when looking for a solution scientists turned to a veteran desert survivor — the scorpion.
Scientists looked at the yellow fat-tail scorpion whose bodies don't seem to get beat up by sandstorms as much other species. They found a unique geometric pattern of ridges on the scorpion's hard shells that stood out as a reason why they might be more resistant to the harsh conditions.
A yellow fat-tail scorpion looks like this:
The scientists reported the special "microtextures" on the scorpion's shell showed better erosion resistance than smooth surfaces. They then used computer modeling to simulate the movement of small particles across various surfaces to get a more specific understanding of the ridge patterns.
According to a written statement from the research team, "The results showed that a series of small grooves at a 30-degree angle to the flowing gas or liquid give steel surfaces the best protection from erosion."
That's pretty specific finding! Who would have thought these tough little desert dwellers would be keeping such a valuable little secret?
Not only do the ridges on the scorpion's hard surfaces help the creature survive, like many other things in nature they are beautifully constructed. When viewed under a microscope the ridges in blue and flat surfaces in white reveal their clearly visible pattern.
Now that the scorpion's secret weapon is out, it follows in a long tradition of tradition of biomimicry — using nature in developing technology. It's likely we'll soon see the scorpion's signature microridges on a wide range of surfaces needing special protection from the desert elements.
The results of the scorpion research will be published the journal of the American Chemical Society, Langmuir.
Via Huffington Post