British Scientists Find Natural Material Stronger Than Spider Silk

British Scientists Find Natural Material Stronger Than Spider Silk

Limpets Seashells 310x

Latest discovery says aquatic material is stronger than spider silk.

For years, spider silk has been championed as the strongest material found in nature (meaning not created in a lab by humans, like graphene). But the arachnid rope may be losing its title to creatures found in the sand, and under the sea.

Limpet teeth are the new strongest naturally-occurring material, according to a study being published by the Royal Society Interface. The teeth are used to scrape food off of rocks and other surfaces, and can only been seen under a microscope. Despite their tiny size, the teeth are incredibly strong, which is why it's can be tough to pry even the smallest sea snails off of rocks at the beach. The teeth are made of tightly wound strands of goethite, which are woven through a protein base.

"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," said Professor Asa Barber, who led the study, "but now we have discovered that limpet teeth exhibit a strength that is potentially higher.

"This discovery means that the fibrous structures found in limpet teeth could be mimicked and used in high-performance engineering applications such as Formula 1 racing cars, the hulls of boats and aircraft structures."

To test the strength of the material, limpet teeth were ground up and put into a atomic force microscope, which tests the strength of any material down to a single atom. The findings? The teeth were roughly five times stronger than your average strand of spider silk.

Barber also says that the structure of the teeth and their fibers mean the material can scale up in size without losing any strength. If the material and fiber process can be duplicated in a lab, the strength of the material in a man-made object would (theoretically) be nearly identical to the material found in nature.

If further testing and development holds up, the next bulletproof vest to be developed could ditch kevlar, and embrace your friendly everyday sea snail.

Source: University of Portsmouth

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Yes! Now make a goddamn space elevator already!

I want everything that can be made of that to be made of that.

I would have expected something like this to be an exotic creature we hardly understand but Limpets are common, it makes me wonder what other similar natural materials are out there which scientists just haven't got around to testing.

Adam Jensen:
I want everything that can be made of that to be made of that.

Since Human teeth can be grown in a lab I want a spare set of gnashers made out of the stuff for when I'm old and wrinkly.

TrevHead:
I would have expected something like this to be an exotic creature we hardly understand but Limpets are common, it makes me wonder what other similar natural materials are out there which scientists just haven't got around to testing.

Excellent point. From exploration of the oceans to testing components of flora and fauna biology, there's so much we don't understand simply because we haven't had the time or resources to test and hypothesize.

So... If spider-silk is no longer the strongest natural material... Limpet-man anyone?

Limpet-man, Limpet-man,
Does whatever a limpet can,
Can he swing, from a web?
No, he can't, but he's got limpet-teeth!

(Yeah, I couldn't really get that last line to rhyme...)

More on topic - I fully support any and all calls to make a space-elevator using this material :)

"This discovery means that the fibrous structures found in limpet teeth could be mimicked and used in high-performance engineering applications such as Formula 1 racing cars, the hulls of boats and aircraft structures."

I love the priorities with that quote. "We can make stuff for Formula 1, further perpetuating one of the world's most expensive corporate circle-jerks! This has been the greatest achievement in human technology since 100-octane gasoline the the Dutch Rudder!"

And then they mention the more practical applications.

Formula 1 is pretty much the pinnacle of motor engineering. While some other categories have made amazing developments (le mans in particular). A considerable amount of technology we take for granted in our cars came from F1. The parts are engineered to the highest levels of precision and the people who create then are some of the finest engineers in the world. F1 companies are bound to have an interest in a material harder than stone that occurs naturally.

The next Spongebob movie will have scientists coming after Gary to harvest their teeth ._.

My god... Don Knotts is/was even more of a super hero than I thought.

Devin Connors:

If further testing and development holds up, the next bulletproof vest to be developed could ditch kevlar, and embrace your friendly everyday sea snail.

I'm assuming the material is, when scaled up to the size of a bullet-resistant vest, around the same weight? If its not, I highly doubt the loss of mobility is worth some additional protection. Not to mention I doubt it would be cost effective for quite some time.

They ground up limpet teeth? oww, I guess Many limpets died to bring us this information

I wonder what the weight of it is. I doubt this would have flexibility for a kevlar replacement unless they do plates of it or something. But this is probably like a rock where weight is considered sense they seem to describe something that is particularly dense whereas spider webs depend on tensile strength. Even though it's made with strands it's really creating something that sounds more abrasive and strong rather than anything like the webbing.

Lightknight:
I wonder what the weight of it is. I doubt this would have flexibility for a kevlar replacement unless they do plates of it or something. But this is probably like a rock where weight is considered sense they seem to describe something that is particularly dense whereas spider webs depend on tensile strength. Even though it's made with strands it's really creating something that sounds more abrasive and strong rather than anything like the webbing.

Yah, scalled up I think it'd still need to maintain woven goethite in panels, I'd figure they'd be imprinted into pyramid-like diamond shaped plates. Meaning it'd function a lot more like scalemail then Kevlar. I wouldn't see a usage for them for police work, but usage with wild animals or military purposes might be worth it.

Devin Connors:

TrevHead:
I would have expected something like this to be an exotic creature we hardly understand but Limpets are common, it makes me wonder what other similar natural materials are out there which scientists just haven't got around to testing.

Excellent point. From exploration of the oceans to testing components of flora and fauna biology, there's so much we don't understand simply because we haven't had the time or resources to test and hypothesize.

And lets not forget the news from a few weeks back; that we may soon have new antibiotics for the first time in nearly thirty years thanks to some bacteria that scientists found in... a soil sample from Maine...

Armadox:

Lightknight:
I wonder what the weight of it is. I doubt this would have flexibility for a kevlar replacement unless they do plates of it or something. But this is probably like a rock where weight is considered sense they seem to describe something that is particularly dense whereas spider webs depend on tensile strength. Even though it's made with strands it's really creating something that sounds more abrasive and strong rather than anything like the webbing.

Yah, scalled up I think it'd still need to maintain woven goethite in panels, I'd figure they'd be imprinted into pyramid-like diamond shaped plates. Meaning it'd function a lot more like scalemail then Kevlar. I wouldn't see a usage for them for police work, but usage with wild animals or military purposes might be worth it.

I'd imagine some construction possibilities depending on the comparative strengths of steel and the longevity of it.

But yeah, where the tensile strength of spider webs are immediately useful this will require some innovative thinking.

Well what are talking here, tensile strength, compressive strength, sheer strength, fatigue strength, yield strength, impact strength,...?

I'm sure they found something interesting but when highly specific scientific shit gets this wishy washy description immediately followed by a marketability forecast their findings are highly questionable.

 

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