Sea Cucumber Inspires Nano-Material
Scientists have created a breakthrough substance that can change in seconds when exposed to liquid, shifting from hard plastic to soft and back again, and that has a wide range of potential medical applications.
Sea cucumbers, found on ocean floors around the world, have leathery skin, an elongated, cucumber-like shape, and a consistency that can be either gelatinous, stiff and rigid, or anything in between.
This "switching effect" in the tissue of the sea cucumber is derived from a distinct nanocomposite structure in which highly rigid collagen nanofibers are embedded in a soft connective tissue.
Stuart Rowan, professor of macromolecular science at Case Western Reserve, said: "The materials were designed to change from a hard plastic -- think of a CD case -- to a soft rubber when brought in contact with water."
Tags: Material | Cucumber