Monday, 8 December 2008

New composite ceramic

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have created a ceramic/polymer composite with much greater strength than either constituent individually. Reported in this week's Science magazine, the material has similarities to nacre, the irridescent mother of pearl that lines the shells of shelled molluscs. The inclusion of the polymer allows the ceramic crystals to slide very slightly under stress, thus absorbing the force rather than fracturing.

By an interesting coincidence, I was reading only today on Ediacaran blog, how arthropod cuticle consists of a hard outer layer and a softer inner layer, providing comparable toughness with flexibility. In this particular post he was talking about how the Cambrian top predator Anomalocaris was able to munch trilobites, but that's incidental to this particular post.

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