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.
This “nanofibrous structure” was then impregnated with acrylic resin. Result: transparent crab shell.
A similar technique was applied to make a chitin-based transparent film, whose sturdiness, high heat resistance, and clarity could find it a place in the screen of your next TV.
Also in the works, we can only assume, is a convenient vending machine full of live crabs as clear as the day.