Articles by Michael A. Monn in JoVE
A Millimeter Scale Flexural Testing System for Measuring the Mechanical Properties of Marine Sponge Spicules Michael A. Monn1, Jarod Ferreira1, Jianzhe Yang1, Haneesh Kesari1 1School of Engineering, Brown University We present a protocol for performing three-point bending tests on sub-millimeter scale fibers using a custom-built mechanical testing device. The device can measure forces ranging from 20 µN up to 10 N and can therefore accommodate a variety of fiber sizes.
Other articles by Michael A. Monn on PubMed
New Functional Insights into the Internal Architecture of the Laminated Anchor Spicules of Euplectella Aspergillum Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Apr, 2015 | Pubmed ID: 25848003 To adapt to a wide range of physically demanding environmental conditions, biological systems have evolved a diverse variety of robust skeletal architectures. One such example, Euplectella aspergillum, is a sediment-dwelling marine sponge that is anchored into the sea floor by a flexible holdfast apparatus consisting of thousands of anchor spicules (long, hair-like glassy fibers). Each spicule is covered with recurved barbs and has an internal architecture consisting of a solid core of silica surrounded by an assembly of coaxial silica cylinders, each of which is separated by a thin organic layer. The thickness of each silica cylinder progressively decreases from the spicule's core to its periphery, which we hypothesize is an adaptation for redistributing internal stresses, thus increasing the overall strength of each spicule. To evaluate this hypothesis, we created a spicule structural mechanics model, in which we fixed the radii of the silica cylinders such that the force transmitted from the surface barbs to the remainder of the skeletal system was maximized. Compared with measurements of these parameters in the native sponge spicules, our modeling results correlate remarkably well, highlighting the beneficial nature of this elastically heterogeneous lamellar design strategy. The structural principles obtained from this study thus provide potential design insights for the fabrication of high-strength beams for load-bearing applications through the modification of their internal architecture, rather than their external geometry.
A New Structure-property Connection in the Skeletal Elements of the Marine Sponge Tethya Aurantia That Guards Against Buckling Instability Scientific Reports. Jan, 2017 | Pubmed ID: 28051108 We identify a new structure-property connection in the skeletal elements of the marine sponge Tethya aurantia. The skeletal elements, known as spicules, are millimeter-long, axisymmetric, silica rods that are tapered along their lengths. Mechanical designs in other structural biomaterials, such as nacre and bone, have been studied primarily for their benefits to toughness properties. The structure-property connection we identify, however, falls in the entirely new category of buckling resistance. We use computational mechanics calculations and information about the spicules' arrangement within the sponge to develop a structural mechanics model for the spicules. We use our structural mechanics model along with measurements of the spicules' shape to estimate the load they can transmit before buckling. Compared to a cylinder with the same length and volume, we predict that the spicules' shape enhances this critical load by up to 30%. We also find that the spicules' shape is close to the shape of the column that is optimized to transmit the largest load before buckling. In man-made structures, many strategies are used to prevent buckling. We find, however, that the spicules use a completely new strategy. We hope our discussion will generate a greater appreciation for nature's ability to produce beneficial designs.
Enhanced Bending Failure Strain in Biological Glass Fibers Due to Internal Lamellar Architecture Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. May, 2017 | Pubmed ID: 28595803 The remarkable mechanical properties of biological structures, like tooth and bone, are often a consequence of their architecture. The tree ring-like layers that comprise the skeletal elements of the marine sponge Euplectella aspergillum are a quintessential example of the intricate architectures prevalent in biological structures. These skeletal elements, known as spicules, are hair-like fibers that consist of a concentric array of silica cylinders separated by thin, organic layers. Thousands of spicules act like roots to anchor the sponge to the sea floor. While spicules have been the subject of several structure-property investigations, those studies have mostly focused on the relationship between the spicule's layered architecture and toughness properties. In contrast, we hypothesize that the spicule's layered architecture enhances its bending failure strain, thereby allowing it to provide a better anchorage to the sea floor. We test our hypothesis by performing three-point bending tests on E. aspergillum spicules, measuring their bending failure strains, and comparing them to those of spicules from a related sponge, Tethya aurantia. The T. aurantia spicules have a similar chemical composition to E. aspergillum spicules but have no architecture. Thus, any difference between the bending failure strains of the two types of spicules can be attributed to the E. aspergillum spicules' layered architecture. We found that the bending failure strains of the E. aspergillum spicules were roughly 2.4 times larger than those of the T. aurantia spicules.