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Insects covered in tough stuff

Locust exoskeleton could inspire new, fracture-resistant materials

10:21am, April 12, 2012

New findings about the hard exterior of the desert locust put scientists a step closer to engineering new strong materials. Cuticle, the material making up the exoskeleton of Schistocerca gregaria, has a toughness that is comparable to natural composites such as bone, researchers at Trinity College Dublin report.

The lower part of a locust’s leg, which helps the insect push off the ground, consists of a hollow cuticle tube. By mechanically bending lower leg segments that had been notched, researchers Jan-Henning Dirks and David Taylor measured how resistant to further cracking damaged insect legs were, a property known a

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