Some shrimp have a secret superpower: Snapping their claws lets loose bubbles that produce plasma and shock waves to stun victim. Now a 3-D printed reproduction claw has actually recreated the phenomenon in the laboratory, researchers report March 15 in Science Advances

When a snapping shrimp ( Alpheus formosus and associated types) knocks its effective claw shut, it gushes a jet of water. That fast-moving stream produces a bubble, which then collapses on itself. The collapse produces severe pressures and temperature levels that reach countless degrees Celsius, creating a plasma, a state of matter in which electrons are devoid of their atoms ( SN: 10/ 6/01, p. 213).

Utilizing scans of a snapping shrimp’s claw as a plan, researchers 3-D printed a variation 5 times the size of the initial, making it snap shut at about the exact same speed as the genuine thing. The group utilized high-speed imaging to observe the bubbles that the phony claw produced in addition to another video camera that got dim flashes of light connected with the plasma. The scientists are examining whether comparable strategies may be beneficial for sanitizing water with plasma, which can eliminate pathogens( SN: 3/4/17, p. 15).

However for the shrimp, the plasma production is an afterthought: “We do not believe the shrimp are purposefully attempting to make a plasma,” states mechanical engineer David Staack of Texas A&M University in College Station, a coauthor of the research study. Rather, the shrimp objective to produce a shock wave that incapacitates their victim. That shock wave takes place under conditions that likewise produce a plasma, Staack states. “It does go claw in hand.”

BUBBLE’S BIRTH A bubble kinds when researchers run their 3-D printed reproduction of a snapping shrimp’s claw, as displayed in actual time and in a high-speed video. The bubble oscillates in size as it collapses.