Snail Teeth Are Strongest Natural Material
Scientists have discovered what might be the strongest natural material known to man: the teeth of a limpet
In a recent study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface yesterday, the teeth of the acquatic snail were found to be not only stronger than the previously thought strongest biological material, spider silk, but also stronger than a lot of man-made materials such as Kevlar.
The team, led by Prof Asa Barber, of the University of Portsmouth, calculated that strength of the tooth material was about five gigapascals (GPa), nearly five times greater than most spider silk.
The otherwise inconspicious mollusc is found in rock pools across the world and use their teeth to scrape algae off the rock surface which explains the surprising strength of the limpet's teeth.
Further analysis of the teeth found that they are composites made from mineral fibers known as goethite which are held together by chitin, a natural 'glue'.
The discovery could help improve high-perfomance composites used to build boats, aircrafts and Formular 1 racing cars.
'Biology is a great source of inspiration when designing new structures but with so many biological structures to consider, it can take time to discover which may be usefu,' Prof Barber said.