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Biomimetic cellular metals-using hierarchical structuring for energy absorption.

ABSTRACT

Fruit walls as well as nut and seed shells typically perform a multitude of functions. One of the biologically most important functions consists in the direct or indirect protection of the seeds from mechanical damage or other negative environmental influences. This qualifies such biological structures as role models for the development of new materials and components that protect commodities and/or persons from damage caused for example by impacts due to rough handling or crashes. We were able to show how the mechanical properties of metal foam based components can be improved by altering their structure on various hierarchical levels inspired by features and principles important for the impact and/or puncture resistance of the biological role models, rather than by tuning the properties of the bulk material. For this various investigation methods have been established which combine mechanical testing with different imaging methods, as well as with in situ and ex situ mechanical testing methods. Different structural hierarchies especially important for the mechanical deformation and failure behaviour of the biological role models, pomelo fruit (Citrus maxima) and Macadamia integrifolia, were identified. They were abstracted and transferred into corresponding structural principles and thus hierarchically structured bio-inspired metal foams have been designed. A production route for metal based bio-inspired structures by investment casting was successfully established. This allows the production of complex and reliable structures, by implementing and combining different hierarchical structural elements found in the biological concept generators, such as strut design and integration of fibres, as well as by minimising casting defects. To evaluate the structural effects, similar investigation methods and mechanical tests were applied to both the biological role models and the metallic foams. As a result an even deeper quantitative understanding of the form-structure-function relationship of the biological concept generators as well as the bio-inspired metal foams was achieved, on deeper hierarchical levels and overarching different levels.