Flexible Rigid Biopolymer Inspired By Sea Cucumbers
A biopolymer that switches from rigid to flexible has been created by Case Western University researchers. It mimics the structure of sea cucumbers, which are able to change their skin from soft and flexible (for getting through narrow spots) to hard and rigid (armor to protect them from predators).
(Sea cucumbers alter their skin flexibility)
It is known that sea cucumbers have skin composed of very fine cellulose fibers. When attacked, surrounding cells secrete molecules that cause these "whiskers" to bind together; when relaxed, other cells release plasticizing proteins to loosen the fibers.
Weder's team isolated stiff cellulose fibers from the mantles of tunicates, sea creatures with skin similar to that of sea cucumbers. The researchers then combined the fibers with a rubbery polymer mixture. The fibers formed a uniform matrix throughout, reinforcing the softer polymer material. These intersecting points hold the network together, creating an inflexible material. "It's like a three-dimensional web in which these nanofibers overlap at certain points, and wherever they overlap, they stick to each other," says Weder.
(Sea cucumbers alter their skin flexibility)
It is hoped that this material could be used in biomedical applications, like implantable electrodes that could record brain activity over long periods of time, without the scarring produced by conventional metal electrodes.
Readers may recall the wet wired brain implants used in the 1995 film Johnny Mnemonic; some sort of flexible/rigid biopolymer would be just what the doctor ordered.
(Johnny Mnemonic's wet-wired brain implant)
Read more about the Adaptable Polymer Inspired by Sea Cucumbers. Thanks to Moira for pointing this one out.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/13/2008)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.
Self-Healing Material Pulls Carbon Out Of The Air
'... could seal the punctures.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Shapeshifting Materials Transform By Light
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'- Philip K. Dick, 1957.
Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Zephyr Solar-Electric Stratospheric Drone
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'
Robot Hummingbird Hovers Biomimetically
'With a buzz... it started out on its journey.'
Harvest Water From Air With Sunlight
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'
Capitalist Big Brother Co-Opts Regular Big Brother
'It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.'
A Floating Cosmodrome
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'
First Artificial Memory Formed In Animals
'Is an extra-factual memory that convincing?' Quail asked.
Maintain Your Megastructure
Megastructures have repair robots, which have repair robots, ad infinitum.
Venezuelans Teaching Your Self-Driving Car
‘She wouldn't stop until Antar had told her everything he knew...’
Robothread Robotic Worms Crawling Through Your Brain
Perfect for clot-busting in the human brain. No Raquel Welch and no lasers, though.
Vantablack BMW X6 Is Douglas Adams Approved
'It's so... black!' said Ford Prefect.
Humanoid Robot's Muscles Biomimic Ours
'It is remarkable that the long leverages of their machines are in most cases actuated by a sort of sham musculature...'
Animatronic Robotic Baby Exposed
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...'
Beijing HaiDiLao Robotic Hotpot Restaurant Now Flavored By Artificial Intelligence
'Kantos Kan led me to one of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus.'
Plants of the Future - What Should They Be Like
'He almost choked in his astonishment. Mashed potatoes and brown gravy!'
China Deploys Robot Traffic Police
'The robot came up smooth and fast as a rocket...'
Better Than Dune Chromoplastic? This Guy Might Have Done It
'But when Old Father Sun departs, the chromoplastic reverts to transparency in the dark.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories