Advanced Materials

Natural Flexible Dermal Armor

Authors

  • Wen Yang,

    1. Materials Science and Engineering Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
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  • Irene H. Chen,

    1. Materials Science and Engineering Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
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  • Bernd Gludovatz,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
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  • Elizabeth A. Zimmermann,

    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
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  • Robert O. Ritchie,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720
    2. Materials Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720
    • Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.
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  • Marc A. Meyers

    Corresponding author
    1. Materials Science and Engineering Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
    2. Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Nanoengineering, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
    • Materials Science and Engineering Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
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Abstract

Fish, reptiles, and mammals can possess flexible dermal armor for protection. Here we seek to find the means by which Nature derives its protection by examining the scales from several fish (Atractosteus spatula, Arapaima gigas, Polypterus senegalus, Morone saxatilis, Cyprinius carpio), and osteoderms from armadillos, alligators, and leatherback turtles. Dermal armor has clearly been developed by convergent evolution in these different species. In general, it has a hierarchical structure with collagen fibers joining more rigid units (scales or osteoderms), thereby increasing flexibility without significantly sacrificing strength, in contrast to rigid monolithic mineral composites. These dermal structures are also multifunctional, with hydrodynamic drag (in fish), coloration for camouflage or intraspecies recognition, temperature and fluid regulation being other important functions. The understanding of such flexible dermal armor is important as it may provide a basis for new synthetic, yet bioinspired, armor materials.

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