University of Portsmouth: Electron Microscope Image of limpet teeth
Researchers discover that teeth of Limpets is stronger than any other natural material and is beating even Kevlar.
Nature still hold endless secrets. So far the spider silk was considered the strongest natural material. Now British researchers found that the teeth in Limpets (aquatic snails) are much stronger.
The teeth are made from a mineral-protein composite. The structure is so strong that it beats all natural materials. It is also stronger than the artificial Kevlar. Only the best carbon material beat the limpet teeth.
Dr. Asa Barber, from the University of Portsmouth says: “These teeth are made up of very small fibers, put together in a particular way – and we should be thinking about making our own structures following the same design principles.”
The Limpet teeth are very small. The Limpet uses them to scrap of algae from rocks. BBC has a short video that gives an interesting insight into the behavior of Limpets. It is quite fascinating to see how active these animals are if you spend a day watching them.
The researches took 10 teeth and ground them to make a tiny test structure. The strength test was performed under an atomic force microscope. The calculated strength for the Limpet tooth material was about 5 gigapascal. This is five times higher than most spider silk.
The Limpet teeth can give material science new inspiration to improve carbon fiber materials.
Dr. Asa Barber says: “We discovered that the fibers of goethite are just the right size to make up a resilient composite structure. 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.”
The findings of the research team lead by Dr. Asa Barber, from the University of Portsmouth have been published in the Royal Society’s journal Interface.
Good to know:
In materials science, the pascal measures the stiffness or tensile strength of materials. The Limpet teeth excel Kevlar in Tensile Strength. Kevlar has 2.75 Gigapascal.