Scientists find strongest natural material

Limpet teeth might be the strongest natural material known to man, a new study has found. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have discovered that limpets – small aquatic snail-like creatures with conical shells – have teeth with biological structures so strong they could be copied to make cars, boats and planes of the future. The study examined the small-scale mechanical behaviour of teeth from limpets using atomic force microscopy, a method used to pull apart materials all the way down to the level of the atom.

Professor Asa Barber from the University’s School of Engineering led the study. He said: “Nature is a wonderful source of inspiration for structures that have excellent mechanical properties. All the things we observe around us, such as trees, the shells of sea creatures and the limpet teeth studied in this work, have evolved to be effective at what they do.

“Until now we thought that spider silk was the strongest biological material because of its super-strength and potential applications in everything from bullet-proof vests to computer electronics but now we have discovered that limpet teeth exhibit a strength that is potentially higher.”

Professor Barber found that the teeth contain a hard mineral known as goethite, which forms in the limpet as it grows. Via Scientists find strongest natural material.

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