Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Strength is shore thing for sea shell scientists

09.03.2010
Scientists have made synthetic ‘sea shells’ from a mixture of chalk and polystyrene cups – and produced a tough new material that could make our homes and offices more durable.

A team of materials scientists and chemists have taken inspiration from sea shells found on the beach to create a composite material from dissimilar ‘ingredients’.

Their technique could be used to make ceramics with high resistance to cracking – which could in turn be used in crack-resistant building materials and bone replacements.

Writing in the journal Advanced Materials, scientists from The University of Manchester and The University of Leeds report that they have successfully reinforced calcium carbonate, or chalk, with polystyrene particles that are used to make drinks cups.

They have developed an effective method of combining calcite crystals with polystyrene particles – and have found this makes the material more ductile compared to its original brittle form.

They report that the polystyrene also acts as a toughening agent, assisting the prevention of the growth of cracks.

Scientists also observed that when the reinforced material cracked, the polymer lengthened within the cracks – a well-known mechanism for absorbing energy and enhancing toughness.

Researchers say their method allows the properties of the new material to be tweaked by selecting particles of different shapes, sizes and composition.

Dr Stephen Eichhorn from The School of Materials at The University of Manchester, said: “The mechanical properties of shells can rival those of man-made ceramics, which are engineered at high temperatures and pressures. Their construction helps to distribute stress over the structure and control the spread of cracks.

“Calcium carbonate is the main ingredient of chalk, which is very brittle and breaks easily when force is applied. But shells are strong and resistant to fracturing, and this is because the calcium carbonate is combined with proteins which bind the crystals together, like bricks in a wall, to make the material stronger and sometimes tougher.

“We have replicated nature’s addition of proteins using polystyrene, to create a strong shell-like structure with similar properties to those seen in nature.

“Further research and testing is still needed but our research potentially offers a straightforward method of engineering new and tough chalk-based composite materials with a wide range of useful applications.”

The research was funded by grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and was conducted in collaboration with Professor Fiona Meldrum in the School of Chemistry at the University of Leeds.

Suzanne Ross | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected
21.02.2018 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Hidden talents: Converting heat into electricity with pencil and paper
20.02.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>