Latch mechanisms are one of the most fun mechanical systems, yet we rarely teach about them, or research them. When the ketchup bottle is open and closed, the problem is solved. But what if that little snap didn’t just hold the lid closed, but was designed to snap open a huge structure? That’s what the little click beetle does — it leverages its muscles and body to snap, and release its little energy so quickly that it can jump without legs. In this recent paper with the groups of Aimy Wissa (MechSE UIUC), Marianne Alleyne (UIUC Entomology) and Jake Socha (VaTech), we explain how the dynamics of the body following the snap reveal how its body structures move between energy states. To me, it’s all about the latch!
Featured image by Eric Carle from the children’s book The Very Clumsy Click Beetle