Taking design cues from insects and shrimp, materials scientists at Harvard have created a material that’s as strong as aluminum alloy but only half the weight. The substance, dubbed “Shrilk” by its creators, is a material analog for insect cuticle--the material found in the exoskeletons of insects--and is the synthetic equivalent to one of nature’s strongest, lightest, and most interesting materials.
In the latest issue of Soft Matter, a team of biochemists from Kyoto University show off their latest creation: a crab shell that came from a normal crab, but which has been made as clear as glass. The hapless crustacean's chitinous exoskeleton was treated with hydrochloric acid, lye, and ethyl alcohol, which removed all the pigments, proteins, and whatnot while leaving the chitin substrate intact.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.