Journal of Materials Research
The microstructures of exoskeletons from Homarus americanus (American lobster) and Callinectes sapidus (Atlantic blue crab) were investigated to elucidate the mechanical behavior of such biological composites. Image analyses of the cross-sectioned exoskeletons showed that the two species each have three well-defined regions across the cuticle thickness where the two innermost regions (exocuticle and endocuticle) are load bearing. These regions consist of mineralized chitin fibers aligned in layers, where a gradual rotation of the fiber orientation of the layers results in repeating stacks. The exocuticle and endocuticle of the two species have similar morphology, but different thicknesses, number of layers, and number of stacks. Mechanics-based analyses showed that the morphology of the layered structure corresponds to a nearly isotropic structure. The cuticles are inter-stitched with pore canal fibers, running transversely to the layered structure. Mechanics-based analyses suggested that the pore canal fibers increase the interlaminar strength of the exoskeleton.
Cheng, Liang., and Liyun Wang, et al. (2008). Image Analyses of Two Crustacean Exoskeletons and Implications of the Exoskeletal Microstructure on the Mechanical Behavior. Journal of Materials Research, 23(11), 2854-2872.