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What is the strongest material in nature?

Feb 20, 2015

Scientists think limpets are literally the hardest animals on Planet Earth.

For years it has been thought that the silk spiders use to spin webs was the strongest material in nature, supposedly five times stronger than steel. However, researchers at the University of Plymouth now think the teeth of limpets might be even five times stronger than that. The undersea creatures’ teeth, which they use to scrape food from rocks, contain a substance called goethite, which is as strong as manmade materials used in bulletproof vests. The scientists compressed the teeth into tiny samples 100 times thinner than a human hair, and after trying to pull them apart using a device called an atomic force microscope, compared the strength of the teeth to one string of spaghetti being able to hold 3,000 500g bags of sugar. But the discovery should have slightly more practical uses than that, enabling engineers to design fibres to build stronger and safer aeroplanes and buildings.

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