Martí Verdaguer Mallorquí

Martí Verdaguer Mallorquí graduated with a BEng in Materials Engineering at the University of Barcelona in 2015 and a Master of Science in Mechanics of Materials and Structures at the University of Girona in 2017. The master culminated in a research project in collaboration with LEITAT Technology Centre studying natural fibre composite materials. He proceeded to work for the technology centre on an airplane seat design in collaboration with Fraunhofer, an armadillo-inspired anti-stabbing device for the police, and a medical device design for B. Braun. The next two years were spent working first as an engineer at the Institute for High Energy Physics (IFAE), focusing mostly on the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) and the design of a retina prosthesis. In his second year, Marti was responsible for two projects for CERN: an update of the ATLAS detector and the design and production of a traction test bench to study superconductive materials for the Future Circular Collider (FCC). Now he is currently working on his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Marc Desmulliez at the Nature-Inspired Manufacturing Centre (NIMC), Heriot-Watt University. The study focusses on learning from ovipositors of sawflies as they cut into plants, with the goal of using the acquired knowledge to design improved surgical tools.

Title: Can ovipositors of sawflies be the future of surgical saws?

Abstract: Most of the insect species within the Symphyta suborder lay their eggs into the soft tissues of plants by using their saw-shaped ovipositor. Surprisingly, very little research has been carried out on such ovipositors to learn how to better cut and saw into different substrates, including human tissue. This talk will present the first forays into this unexploited source of knowledge in order to design a surgical tool. From the study of the morphological characteristics of the ovipositor teeth, an experimental set up has been built to assess the performance of the cutting mechanism in such ovipositors. Two morphological characteristics have been selected for the study, one is the serrulae, which is a small saw-like formation on the apical side of the teeth. The other characteristic is a “bump” present on the basal side of the teeth. Although further work is needed, the results point towards a synergic effect of the two studied characteristics. The two traits would work together to trap and cut the substrate when the two symmetrical blades of the ovipositor engage on a reciprocating motion sliding against each other.

Brightly coloured Sawfly
Sawfly – Jean Hort – CC BY 2.0