As anyone who's been to the beach can tell you, sand has an uncanny ability to work its way into the most obscene places. Amusing for people, sure, but for machines, sand is a killer—penetrating gears, clog pipes, and causing general havoc with moving parts. A new surface based on a scorpion's hide, however, could prevent that.
The erosion-resistant armor is based on the skin of the Yellow Fattail Scorpion of North Africa—one of the more deadly varieties with venom capable of killing an adult male in under two hours. Its skin is made of a series of microtextures—various patterns of bumps and grooves—that help channel air (and air-borne sand) over the animal, minimizing the sandblast effect.
Researchers at Jilin University in China have developed the new armor by first scanning scorpions, then modifying and testing the derived surface texture to maximize its resistance to abrasion. According to the study published in the materials science journal Langmuir, parts engraved with this microtexture far outperformed similar, smooth-faced components. [Petbugs - Languimir via Scientific American]
A Point Cloud of a Fattail's back: