What’s in a leg?!

What’s in a leg?!

Irish researchers are shedding some new light on insect legs. It seems by studying the structures of certain insect legs to improve materials that are used in not only medicine, but aviation as well. Trying to decipher what contributes to the sturdiness and weakness of the legs is a task. Insect legs are made of a cuticle material. They are thin, light and bend with pressure. The long, thin tubes are able to keep strength in light of weighing much less than other structure types. This can give great benefits to hospital equipment like catheters and for aircraft parts. While studying all of the benefits nature’s materials can bring, one must begin to understand and look for possible failures. The tubes while maintaining strength tend to buckle much like a straw with an unwanted bend. David Taylor’s team has studied insect leg behavior in locusts, bees, stick insects and cockroaches. They all use their legs differently and all leg structures are different. The team will purchase insects from local pet shops and test the buckling process. Experiments are done both with actual insect legs and computer simulations to help with buckling predictions. The idea of testing the insect legs of course is to help future development in the aircraft and other fields. For more information on locust, bees, cockroaches and stick insects click here

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