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A Structure Based Constitutive Model for Bat Wing Skins, A Soft Biological Tissue

[+] Author Affiliations
Seyul Son

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Yanli Wang, N. C. Goulbourne

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Paper No. IMECE2010-40924, pp. 745-756; 12 pages
  • ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 9: Mechanics of Solids, Structures and Fluids
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, November 12–18, 2010
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4446-5
  • Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Bat wing skin is a soft biological tissue that is used to enable flight (amongst other physiological roles) in bats such as the Glossophaga Soricina. To describe and predict wing behavior during flight, a high fidelity constitutive model validated by rigorous experimentation is required. Understanding the role that the tissue microstructure plays in achievable flight patterns and maneuverability will bring closer understanding of adaptations between species that yield specific flight behaviors and will also provide a template for developing synthetic skins for biomimicry in unmanned micro air vehicles. A structural continuum model that incorporates principal structural features of the wing skin can potentially provide a link between structure and functionality. Mesoscopic elastin fiber bundles on the order of hundreds of microns are the key constituents in the structure of bat wing. They are embedded in a base matrix composed by elastic ground substance and randomly oriented collagen fibers. The wing sweeps through very large deformations during flight and the fiber bundles undergo finite strains and large rotations presumed affine in the current treatment. To date, all the biological materials studied and modeled are comprised of stiff collagen fibers. The wing skin, on the other hand, is modeled as hyperelastic with distributed elastin fiber bundles with orientations belonging to two disparate families. Two families of fiber bundles have shown prominent difference in mechanical properties. More importantly, the bundle diameters vary dramatically with respect to bundle orientation even within each family. A mathematical treatment is formulated in this paper to capture the overall effect of distribution of diameters and distribution of orientations of fiber bundles based on the framework of Gasser et al [1]. This formulation is suitable in a general case when two fiber properties both vary spatially and they can be described using distribution functions such as Von Mises distribution.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME



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