Tech Transfer eNews Blog

UC Riverside researcher creates stronger, lighter material inspired by an ancient crustacean


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: August 13th, 2019

A researcher at the University of California-Riverside (UCR) has created a lightweight, impact-resistant technology inspired by a tiny crustacean.

The technology involves a material with a structure that resembles twisted plywood. UCR researcher David Kisailus developed the technology by examining the mantis shrimp, which millions of years ago evolved an internal structure to protect the hammer-like club it uses to smash prey with profound speed and force. This “helicoid” structure prevents cracks from growing and dissipates significant amounts of energy from strikes to avoid catastrophic damage.

Kisailus and his research team found that using the helicoid structure to build ultrastrong composite materials and components resulted in lighter, stronger products. They launched the start-up Helicoid Industries to commercialize the technology and license it to sporting goods, wind turbine, auto parts, aerospace, defense and industrial parts industries.

According to the start-up, its greatest impact may be in wind-turbine manufacturing, in which the lower energy production costs of larger blades are offset by their increased weight. Using Helicoid’s technology, wind turbine manufacturers could make larger, more lightweight blades to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of energy production.

The start-up worked closely with UCR’s Office of Technology Partnerships to license the technology and to raise funds for commercialization. Helicoid is currently finalizing a $5 million financing round to expand its management and sales teams and to finish manufacturing a prototype.

Rosibel Ochoa, associate vice chancellor of technology partnerships at UCR, comments, “We are delighted to partner with Helicoid Industries to commercialize this unique technology so it can positively impact society.”

Source: UC Riverside News

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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