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J R Soc Interface 2022 Aug 01;19193:20220226. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2022.0226.
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Hexagonal Voronoi pattern detected in the microstructural design of the echinoid skeleton.

Perricone V , Grun TB , Rendina F , Marmo F , Candia Carnevali MD , Kowalewski M , Facchini A , De Stefano M , Santella L , Langella C , Micheletti A .

Repeated polygonal patterns are pervasive in natural forms and structures. These patterns provide inherent structural stability while optimizing strength-per-weight and minimizing construction costs. In echinoids (sea urchins), a visible regularity can be found in the endoskeleton, consisting of a lightweight and resistant micro-trabecular meshwork (stereom). This foam-like structure follows an intrinsic geometrical pattern that has never been investigated. This study aims to analyse and describe it by focusing on the boss of tubercles-spine attachment sites subject to strong mechanical stresses-in the common sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. The boss microstructure was identified as a Voronoi construction characterized by 82% concordance to the computed Voronoi models, a prevalence of hexagonal polygons, and a regularly organized seed distribution. This pattern is interpreted as an evolutionary solution for the construction of the echinoid skeleton using a lightweight microstructural design that optimizes the trabecular arrangement, maximizes the structural strength and minimizes the metabolic costs of secreting calcitic stereom. Hence, this identification is particularly valuable to improve the understanding of the mechanical function of the stereom as well as to effectively model and reconstruct similar structures in view of future applications in biomimetic technologies and designs.

PubMed ID: 35946165
PMC ID: PMC9363984
Article link: J R Soc Interface

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