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Bioinspir Biomim. 2013 Jun;8(2):025001. doi: 10.1088/1748-3182/8/2/025001. Epub 2013 May 7.

Structure-function relationship of the foam-like pomelo peel (Citrus maxima)-an inspiration for the development of biomimetic damping materials with high energy dissipation.

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Plant Biomechanics Group Freiburg, Botanic Garden, Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


The mechanical properties of artificial foams are mainly determined by the choice of bulk materials and relative density. In natural foams, in contrast, variation to optimize properties is achieved by structural optimization rather than by conscious substitution of bulk materials. Pomelos (Citrus maxima) have a thick foam-like peel which is capable of dissipating considerable amounts of kinetic energy and thus this fruit represents an ideal role model for the development of biomimetic impact damping structures. This paper focuses on the analysis of the biomechanics of the pomelo peel and on its structure-function relationship. It deals with the determination of the onset strain of densification of this foam-like tissue and on how this property is influenced by the arrangement of vascular bundles. It was found here that the vascular bundles branch in a very regular manner-every 16.5% of the radial peel thickness-and that the surrounding peel tissue (pericarp) attains its exceptional thickness mainly by the expansion of existing interconnected cells causing an increasing volume of the intercellular space, rather than by cell division. These findings lead to the discussion of the pomelo peel as an inspiration for fibre-reinforced cast metallic foams with the capacity for excellent energy dissipation.

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