The Herman Trend Alert
July 4, 2018
Super Wood from Spiders
A major emerging field is Materials Science. For years, scientists have been looking at how to combine substances on a molecular level to create these new resources which might be more durable or flexible or have other qualities that current materials do not.
The strongest biomaterial on earth
Spider silk has long been recognized as the strongest biomaterial on Earth; recently, that record has changed. Using wood nanofibers, scientists at KTH Royal Institute of Technology created a new biomaterial that is much stronger than spider silk. To accomplish this super feat, researchers "densified" wood and transformed an already sturdy material into a "super wood". According to these scientists, this new super wood is as "strong as steel".
Strength in alignment
To accomplish this feat, researchers aligned tiny cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) in the same direction to create tightly-packed little bundles. (CNF are an advanced biomaterial made mainly from renewable forest and agricultural resources---read wood and plant pulp that have demonstrated exceptional performance in composites.) Together, these bundles form a material that is super strong. This new engineered material will be used in many items including planes, cars and even furniture.
How the scientists made it happen now
According to one of the study's co-authors Daniel Soderberg, this discovery was only achievable through understanding and controlling the essential considerations for "perfect nano-structuring"; these parameters include particle size, interactions, alignment, diffusion, network formation, and assembly.
Strength beyond expectation
These bio-based nanocellulose fibers made with wood fibers and spider silk are eight times stiffer and have strengths higher than natural dragline spider silk fibers alone which were the strongest bio-based material on the planet. The fibers' strength exceeds that of metals, alloys, ceramics, and E-glass fibers. Published in the journal ACS NANO, the study details the creation of this impressive new biomaterial.
The first of many bio-innovations
With the advent of nano-structuring, expect to see many new materials created by combining various organic components on this microscopic level. This new science will be the foundation of many new, superior materials.
Special thanks to inhabit.com for their coverage of this breakthrough.
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