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Title: Mechanical design of the highly porous cuttlebone: A bioceramic hard buoyancy tank for cuttlefish

Cuttlefish, a unique group of marine mollusks, produces an internal biomineralized shell, known as cuttlebone, which is an ultra-lightweight cellular structure (porosity, ∼93 vol%) used as the animal’s hard buoyancy tank. Although cuttlebone is primarily composed of a brittle mineral, aragonite, the structure is highly damage tolerant and can withstand water pressure of about 20 atmospheres (atm) for the speciesSepia officinalis. Currently, our knowledge on the structural origins for cuttlebone’s remarkable mechanical performance is limited. Combining quantitative three-dimensional (3D) structural characterization, four-dimensional (4D) mechanical analysis, digital image correlation, and parametric simulations, here we reveal that the characteristic chambered “wall–septa” microstructure of cuttlebone, drastically distinct from other natural or engineering cellular solids, allows for simultaneous high specific stiffness (8.4 MN⋅m/kg) and energy absorption (4.4 kJ/kg) upon loading. We demonstrate that the vertical walls in the chambered cuttlebone microstructure have evolved an optimal waviness gradient, which leads to compression-dominant deformation and asymmetric wall fracture, accomplishing both high stiffness and high energy absorption. Moreover, the distribution of walls is found to reduce stress concentrations within the horizontal septa, facilitating a larger chamber crushing stress and a more significant densification. The design strategies revealed here can provide important lessons for the development of low-density, more » stiff, and damage-tolerant cellular ceramics.

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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 23450-23459
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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