Journal of Materials Research
We explore key mechanical responses of the layered microstructure found in selected parts of the exoskeletons (pronotum, leg and elytron) of Popillia japonica (Japanese beetle). Image analyses of exoskeleton cross-sections reveal four distinct layered regions. The load-bearing inner three regions (exocuticle, mesocuticle, and endocuticle) consist of multiple chitin-protein layers, in which chitin fibers align in parallel. The exocuticle and mesocuticle have a helicoidal structure, where the stacking sequence is characterized by a gradual rotation of the fiber orientation. The endocuticle has a pseudo-orthogonal structure, where two orthogonal layers are joined by a thin helicoidal region. The mechanics-based analyses suggest that, compared with the conventional cross-ply structure, the pseudo-orthogonal configuration reduces the maximum tensile stress over the exoskeleton cross-section and increases the interfacial fracture resistance. The coexistence of the pseudo-orthogonal and helicoidal structures reveals a competition between the in-plane isotropy and the interfacial strength in nature’s design of the biocomposite.
Cheng, Liang., and Liyun Wang, et al. (2009). Mechanics-based Analysis of Selected Features of the Exoskeletal Microstructure of Popillia Japonica. Journal of Materials Research, 24(11), 3253-3267.