Snakeskin-Inspired Pilings Could Stabilize Buildings
One of the more fascinating approaches to solving engineering problems by using nature as a guide has emerged from research for the Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics, directed by Fulton Schools Professor Edward Kavazanjian. Researchers with one of the center’s partners, the University of California, Davis, have been looking for more effective ways to stabilize buildings and other structures built on soft soils. One potential solution is to use snakeskin as a model for the columns of strong materials — called pilings — that are driven into soil to strengthen the foundations. The skin of snakes is constructed in such a way that it enables the reptiles to move more easily in one direction than another. So, pilings made like snakeskin would be easy to drive into soil but harder to pull out. Engineering researchers collaborated with snake experts to develop scale models of these pilings and test them in a lab. Results so far are promising.