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Publication - Dr Gregory Sutton

    The principles of cascading power limits in small, fast biologcial and engineered systems


    Ilton, M, Bhamla, MS, Ma, X, Cox, SM, Fitchett, LL, Kim, Y, Koh, Js, Krishnamurthy, D, Kuo, CY, Temel, FZ, Crosby, AJ, Prakash, M, Sutton, GP, Wood, RJ, Azizi, E, Bergbreiter, S & Patek, SN, 2018, ‘The principles of cascading power limits in small, fast biologcial and engineered systems’. Science, vol 360.


    Mechanical power limitations emerge from the inextricable, physical trade-off between force and velocity. Whether power is measured in launching missiles or running humans, it is impossible to maximize both force and velocity. Many biological systems incorporate powerenhancing mechanisms to great effect, enabling accelerations that exceed bullets and missiles; yet how these mechanisms actually enhance power output is not clear. Here we establish
    how power enhancement emerges through dynamic coupling of motors, springs, and latches. Power output of motors can be enhanced by springs only under particular conditions and the power dynamics (and limitations) of springs are influenced by their own mass, mechanical properties, and time-dependent behavior. Latch mechanisms mediate potential energy storage
    and the rate of energy transfer from a spring to a projectile. The integration of mathematical, physical, engineering, and evolutionary approaches illuminates the cascading challenges of power enhancement and their emergent effects in biological and engineered systems.

    Full details in the University publications repository