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Hierarchical, multilayered cell walls reinforced by recycled silk cocoons enhance the structural integrity of honeybee combs

Zhang, K., Duan, H. L., Karihaloo, Bhushan Lal and Wang, J. 2010. Hierarchical, multilayered cell walls reinforced by recycled silk cocoons enhance the structural integrity of honeybee combs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 (21) , pp. 9502-9506. 10.1073/pnas.0912066107

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Abstract

We reveal the sophisticated and hierarchical structure of honeybee combs and measure the elastic properties of fresh and old natural honeycombs at different scales by optical microscope, environmental scanning electron microscope, nano/microindentation, and by tension and shear tests. We demonstrate that the comb walls are continuously strengthened and stiffened without becoming fragile by the addition of thin wax layers reinforced by recycled silk cocoons reminiscent of modern fiber-reinforced composite laminates. This is done to increase its margin of safety against collapse due to a temperature increase. Artificial engineering honeycombs mimic only the macroscopic geometry of natural honeycombs, but have yet to achieve the microstructural sophistication of their natural counterparts. The natural honeycombs serve as a prototype of truly biomimetic cellular materials with hitherto unattainable improvement in stiffness, strength, toughness, and thermal stability.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: biomimetic cellular solids; hierarchical structure; natural honeycombs; survivability; recycling
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
ISSN: 0027-8424
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:03
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/8206

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