A recent study by the University of Colorado Boulder has unleashed the secrets of fish fins. This information could later help in technological advancements towards robotics, especially in building surgical tools or flexible airplane wings.
Francois Barthelat, the senior author of the study, observed that fish fins have a unique quality of agility even though they don’t contain a single muscle!
The biomechanics of a fin’s structure was studied in greater detail using computer simulations. The 3D computer graphs showed that each ray in a fin is created of multiple segments of a rigid material that stack on top of much softer collagen, making them the perfect balance between bouncy and stiff.
In the engineering world, materials that are stiff yet flexible are considered to be as precious as an elixir. Aerodynamic engineers, for instance, have long been interested in inventing wings that can modify on command, giving planes more ability to change directions while still keeping them in the air.
The biology of microorganisms often advances the concepts of Physics for engineering innovative technologies.