Competition has always found the best resources in everyone, and so did the fight for the strongest material on Earth, that has been won year after year by the spider silk. As of today, the sea snail teeth are the champion of the reevaluation that is constantly made by scientists. The lucky species that is the star of the race is Patella vulgate. The common limpet species has been found to be tougher than Kevlar and stronger than spider silk. The story as been covered by The Royal Society journal Interface in the edition that appeared on the 18th of February.
Lead study author Asa Barber, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Southampton in England has made a public statement about the issue.
“Spider silk has been winning this competition for a long time. I was surprised and excited that limpet teeth beat the winner. […]Nature always develops the perfect structure for a particular mechanical job, so I thought, ‘They’ve got to be really strong,'”
Limpets are strong, tiny snails that live in the oceans, no matter how deep are the waters or how close to the shore someone is looking for them. The way they attach to a rock shows their unbelievable grip and of course it represents the amazing strength that they have in their teeth. As far as they are concerned, a microscope is needed in order to be observed clearly. Thin, tightly-packed fibers contain goethite, a hydroxide mineral that is usually found in the soil or other low-temperature environments, and in this case, in cold waters. Even if at the moment, the teeth of the sea snail are only used by its own self, for scraping food off of rocks, Asa Barber believes that in time, the material could be used to build better and more secure planes, boats and dental fillings. This process is called “bioinspiration”. He believes that the nature is a wonderful source of inspiration for structures that have excellent mechanical properties.
Actually, after he has made a quite impressive experiment, Mr. Barber has found that the power of the material is of five gigapascals. This means five times more strength than the spider silk has.
“People are always trying to find the next strongest thing, but spider silk has been the winner for quite a few years now. So we were quite happy that the limpet teeth exceeded that.”
Image Source: Wikimedia