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Poseidon’s Armor

MIT materials scientists have announced that an oyster’s shell could inspire a new type of lightweight armor that stops multiple bullet strikes and is clear enough to read through. 

Studying an edible bivalve called the windowpane oyster, researchers uncovered the shell’s amazing ability to dissipate energy and localize damage from a penetrating blow. Read more below.

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Lighter Than Water, Stronger Than Steel

Researchers in Germany have made a significant advance in creating lightweight, tough materials by taking a note from bone, wood and honeycombs.

A Karlsruhe Institute of Technology team fabricated polymer and alumina composites in a regular framework structure using 3-D laser lithography. Their hierarchical microarchitecture achieved extremely porous materials with strength-to-density ratios higher than bone, aluminum or steel.

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This California blackeye pea plant is shown growing over a three-week period in soil enriched with nontoxic, biodegradable plastic made of shrimp shells. 
Scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering made the bioplastic so it can be used to manufacture cell phones, toys and in any other product in which regular plastics are used. Mixing in waste from wood processing called wood flour to prevent shrinkage, the team found that the material could be used in casting and injection-molding processes to make large 3-D objects. It also breaks down in two weeks and releases valuable nutrients into soil when it does, they say.[[MORE]]
Their work on the bioplastic was published at the end of February in the journal Macromolecular Materials & Engineering.
The chitosan that goes into making the bioplastic is a form of chitin, the second most abundant organic material on Earth. It is present in fungi and insect and crustacean shells.
"There is an urgent need in many industries for sustainable materials that can be mass produced," said Dr. Don Ingber, the institute’s founding director, in a statement. “Our scalable manufacturing method shows that chitosan, which is readily available and inexpensive, can serve as a viable bioplastic that could potentially be used instead of conventional plastics for numerous industrial applications.”

This California blackeye pea plant is shown growing over a three-week period in soil enriched with nontoxic, biodegradable plastic made of shrimp shells. 

Scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering made the bioplastic so it can be used to manufacture cell phones, toys and in any other product in which regular plastics are used. Mixing in waste from wood processing called wood flour to prevent shrinkage, the team found that the material could be used in casting and injection-molding processes to make large 3-D objects. It also breaks down in two weeks and releases valuable nutrients into soil when it does, they say.

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Graphene With Nanosized Holes Could Make Dramatically Better Water Filters

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by Txchnologist staff

Tiny filters measuring just one-atom thick might be the next generation of technology that efficiently separates salt and impurities from water. Researchers report that they have successfully punched subnanoscale holes in graphene, the sheets of bound carbon atoms known to be one of the strongest materials on Earth. 

They fired metal ions at the graphene to disrupt the bonds between carbon atoms, which naturally form into hexagonal rings that look like chicken wire. The graphene was then etched with a solution that dissolved the weakened bonds and formed densely packed pores.

“We bombard the graphene with gallium ions at high energy,” said Sean O’Hern, an MIT graduate student who led the research, in a university statement. “That creates defects in the graphene structure, and these defects are more chemically reactive.” 

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