Scientists often look to nature for inspiration in the search for ways to make new materials. A new study of the clamworm, an intertidal creature, shows that it has jaws made partly of zinc, making them strong, stiff and tough –– fundamental properties by which all materials are evaluated.
The properties of the clamworm jaws are described in this week´s online publication of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS). The research began with questions by scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Argonne National Laboratory, and evolved into an international project involving scientists from Austria and Finland.
"Zinc zips together proteins in a way that hardens the material," said Galen D. Stucky, a materials chemist and professor in UCSB´s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He noted that the study of how nature makes hard materials, their structure and function, may eventually yield information on how scientists can make lightweight, flexible materials ranging from more durable tires to protective coatings.
Gail Gallessich | EurekAlert!
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