Silverstre Taveria Pinho

Professor in Mechanics of Composites

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Silvestre Taveira Pinho is a Professor in Mechanics of Composites at the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London in the UK.

“From crustaceans to airplanes: new light-weight materials inspired by nature”

The mantis shrimp is a formidable predator. At mealtime, it uses its club to hit the hard defensive shells of crabs and break them. How does it do it? In part, it evolved an intricate micro-structured material for its club. Other animals have evolved intricate micro-structured materials too, including lobsters, beetles, molluscs and many others. And it’s not just animals: plants such as bamboo, lotus and many others have evolved fantastic micro-structures too. It is therefore not surprising that scientists and engineers are looking carefully at these materials and trying to figure out if they can identify the underpinning principles that makes them outstanding and somehow replicate them in human-made advanced light-weight materials. What they are finding is that we can create an exciting array of diverse bio-inspired materials which over-perform traditional engineering materials for various applications.

In this talk, Silvestre discusses how mastering new materials has been a key to the progress and resilience of human civilization, why biological materials are amazing, and how scientists are currently taking inspiration from them for applications in aerospace, automotive and sport.

Silvestre teaches Structural Mechanics and Dynamics to Aeronautical Engineering. His research seeks to achieve more lightweight advanced aircraft structures so that aircraft spend less fuel. In particular, he develops numerical simulation models to aid in the design of aircraft structures and investigates how to take inspiration from nature to design even better materials to be used in aircraft.