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Bionic scorpion holds key to tougher machinery

Living in the harsh climate of Africa and the Middle East is a difficult prospect, even for a lethal scorpion because of the constant battering by violent sandstorms. The fat tail nevertheless thrives and that is what has intrigued scientists who have published a report in the American Chemical Society journal Langmuir.

Sandstorms are akin to sandblasting which usually strips coatings and materials very quickly and easily. The fact that the fat tail survives intact has led scientists to find out more about its erosion-resistant shell. According to the report, the scorpion has evolved a bionic shield.

Scientists studied the bumps and indents in the scorpion?s bionic back using 3D laser scanning and developed a program that followed the flow of sand and air over the shell.

Using a combination of computer simulations and wind tunnel testing, the research group discovered two very important things ? micro-textured surfaces offer better erosion resistance than smooth surfaces and a series of grooves at a 30-degree angle to the abrasive material offer the best protection.

Further investigations may lead to developments that will reduce the wear and tear on machinery that currently faces damage from working in harsh conditions.

The full journal article can be viewed and downloaded from the American Chemical Society website:

Source: American Chemical Society

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