Protection mechanisms of the iron-plated armor of a deep-sea hydrothermal vent gastropod

Haimin Yao, Ming Dao, Timothy Imholt, Jamie Huang, Kevin Wheeler, Alejandro Bonilla, Subra Suresh, Christine Ortiz

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

175 Citations (Scopus)


Biological exoskeletons, in particular those with unusually robust and multifunctional properties, hold enormous potential for the development of improved load-bearing and protective engineering materials. Here, we report new materials and mechanical design principles of the iron-plated multilayered structure of the natural armor of Crysomallon squamiferum, a recently discovered gastropod mollusc from the Kairei Indian hydrothermal vent field, which is unlike any other known natural or synthetic engineered armor. We have determined through nanoscale experiments and computational simulations of a predatory attack that the specific combination of different materials, microstructures, interfacial geometries, gradation, and layering are advantageous for penetration resistance, energy dissipation, mitigation of fracture and crack arrest, reduction of back deflections, and resistance to bending and tensile loads. The structure-property-performance relationships described are expected to be of technological interest for a variety of civilian and defense applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-992
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomechanics
  • Exoskeleton
  • Mollusc
  • Nanoindentation
  • Nanomechanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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