Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Toucan Beaks Rule

Toucan Bills Mysteries
A toucan’s beak is one third of its entire length but comprises only about one thirtieth to fortieth of its mass. Nevertheless, toucan beaks are extremely stiff, which is crucial for the gathering of food. The outside of a Toucan beak is made of beta-keratin and the inside is an “internal foam” made from bone. This internal foam is an extension of the skull and is usually hollow at the center. UCSD researchers are studying the relationship between the structure and mechanical properties of Toco Toucan beaks. The engineers report that Toco Toucan beak structure is a sandwich composite with an exterior of keratin and a middle comprised of a fibrous network of closed cells made of bone. The researchers determined the tensile strength of the keratin exterior, which is made of polygonal scales glued together. Components of the internal part of the Toco Toucan beak have a Young’s modulus twice as high as the keratin shells due to their higher calcium content. The engineers report a synergistic effect between the internal foam and keratin shell as evidenced by experiments and analysis establishing the separate responses of shell, foam, and foam+shell.

Primary Student: Yasuaki Seki yaseki AT ucsd DOT edu
Faculty Advisor: Marc A. Meyers
Department: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Hot Poster Presentations

There are so many hot poster presentation that I can't possibly mention them all...but over the next week, I will point out a few that caught my attention. If you want to know more about the UCSD graduate research extravaganza known as "Research Expo" and other events that make up Engineers Week, check out the new web site (be sure the hit the student blogs!)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008