Saturday, 11 March 2017

Our Designed Bones Inspire Crack-Resistant Supersteel

Our bones inspire supersteel. Image courtesy of Sklmsta, Public domain.

Joel Kontinen

We are full of superbly-designed parts. From the tiniest nanomachine in our cells to our eyes, brain and big bones, everything in us is made wonderfully.

Even sceptics have a hard time in trying to doubt design in us, as design is so obvious that engineers are drawing inspiration from our body parts to build better devices.

An article in Science reports on “supersteel”, the latest invention based on the human body:

Our bones are light, tough, and fracture resistant. That’s because of the hierarchical way in which they are built. On the nanoscale, tiny collagen fibers have a laminatelike arrangement, with different layers of fibers oriented in different directions. On larger scales, bones have a latticelike structure and different patterns of voids that make them light and strong. These structures ensure that bone resists the propagation of cracks in any one direction.”

Researchers think that if they mimic the structure of our bones, they could produce a sturdier material than conventional steel. They believe that it is “far more resistant to cracks created by metal fatigue.”

This has far-reaching implications:

That could allow engineers to use the material to build everything from bridges to spacecraft that are less susceptible to catastrophic failure, which can happen when a tiny crack becomes a full-blown fracture.”

3,000 years ago King David said, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14, NIV).


Service, Robert F. 2017. ‘Supersteel’ modeled on human bone is resistant to cracks. Science (9 March).