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Repairable Cascaded Slide-lock System Endows Bird Feathers with Tear-resistance and Superdurability

Penelitian - Researchers reveal the superdurability of bird feathers arises from their repairable cascaded slide-lock system, which is composed of hooklets, a slide rail, and spines at the end of the slide rail as terminating structures.

After a long or tumultuous flight through bushes, birds are often found preening their disordered feathers with their bill, which is considered to repair separated feather vanes. The fascinating structural features are closely related to the evolution, courtship, and taxonomy of birds and the unique optical and mechanical properties of feathers, which have attracted tremendous attention over the past centuries.

Penelitian Repairable Cascaded Slide-lock System Endows Bird Feathers with Tear-resistance and Superdurability

Since Hooke drafted the first rough model of feather structures in 1665, many efforts have been made to explore the structure and function of feathers. Microscale hooks and grooves and their functions have been observed and illustrated with optical and electron microscopy.

Unfortunately, to date, the superdurability of feathers against tears has remained linked to the interlocking hook-and-groove model, which cannot yet explain that superdurability adequately.

Feilong Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and team carried out comprehensive and detailed observations to explore the superdurability of bird feathers and have demonstrated that feathers form a repairable cascaded slide-lock system.

“We discovered and characterized the sophisticated cascaded slide-lock system of bird feathers, which is composed of flexible hooklets, a slide rail, and spines at the end of the slide rail as terminating structures,” said Zhang.



The 3D fine structures and the entire unzipping process of feathers were observed via 3D X-ray microscopy and microscopy with a micronano manipulating system, and the feathers’ self-repairing capability and superdurability against tears afforded by the cascaded slide-lock system were verified under applied separation forces.

These results indicate an important step toward understanding the feather interlocking system, and the cascaded slide-lock system offers insight into the design of smart textiles and flexible devices.

Journal : Feilong Zhang et al. Repairable cascaded slide-lock system endows bird feathers with tear-resistance and superdurability, PNAS, September 17, 2018, DOI:10.1073/pnas.1808293115

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