“It is a resistant material composed of extremely small nanoparticles in a fibrous matrix made of biomacromolecules, similar to the bones of our body “, comment the authors.
These nanoparticles help tooth bases vary in hardness and stiffness by at least a factor of two at distances of just several hundred microns, a few times the average width of a human hair
This finding helps to understand how absolutely the entire tooth of the animal is designed to withstand chewing on rocks for food. Based on the minerals found in chiton teeth, the researchers developed a bio-inspired ink for 3D printing of ultra-hard, rigid and durable materials. Ink includes iron and phosphate mixed into a natural substance produced by chiton. When the ink dries, it creates a stiff material.
“We’ve been fascinated with the chiton for a long time,” explains Joester. “The mechanical structures are only as good as their weakest link, so it is interesting to learn how the chiton solves the engineering problem of how to connect your ultra-hard tooth to an underlying soft structure. “This remains a major challenge in modern manufacturing, so we look to organisms like chiton to understand how this is done in nature., which has had a waiting time of a couple of hundred million years to develop. “
“We can continue to learn and develop materials inspired by the chiton, which connects ultra-hard teeth with a soft radula,” conclude the experts. In fact, these compounds could be used in soft robotics, to go where conventional robots cannot go due to their hard parts.