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Replicating Hardest Known Biomaterial Could Improve Solar Cells and Batteries

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the harder-better-faster-stronger dept.

Biotech 28

cylonlover writes "Inspired by the tough teeth of a marine snail and the remarkable process by which they form, assistant professor David Kisailus at the University of California, Riverside is working toward building cheaper, more efficient nanomaterials. By achieving greater control over the low-temperature growth of nanocrystals (abstract), his research could improve the performance of solar cells and lithium-ion batteries, lead to higher-performance materials for car and airplane frames, and help develop abrasion-resistant materials that could be used for anything from specialized clothing to dental drills."

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And shields, don't forget shields (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42629213)

Swords are our deadliest weapons.

Re:And shields, don't forget shields (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#42629501)

Snail mail: tougher than plate mail and ring mail?

Re:And shields, don't forget shields (0)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 2 years ago | (#42629607)

My snail mail was delivered by male snails wearing mail.

Re:And shields, don't forget shields (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42629625)

Yet one more thing to steal for my next D&D game.

Sounds like a usless idea (3, Funny)

Sir or Madman (2818071) | about 2 years ago | (#42629219)

Solar cells are typically not used for mastication.

Re:Sounds like a usless idea (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42629283)

But growing circuits at room temperature with cheap ingredients would be an improvement.

Re:Sounds like a usless idea (-1, Offtopic)

bypeviop (2818829) | about 2 years ago | (#42629685)

http://www.cloud65.com/ [cloud65.com] my classmate's mother makes $78 hourly on the computer. She has been out of a job for 9 months but last month her pay was $19457 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site

Re:Sounds like a usless idea (0)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42629717)

Where are my mod points when I need them? ;;

Re:Sounds like a usless idea (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about 2 years ago | (#42632169)

But growing circuits at room temperature with cheap ingredients would be an improvement.

Which is why the industrial use of zero-g is paramount.

Re:Sounds like a usless idea (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | about 2 years ago | (#42629323)

That bites...

Re:Sounds like a usless idea (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | about 2 years ago | (#42630343)

Having solar cells that can withstand impact and abrasion might be kind of nifty.

Well done (4, Insightful)

wanderfowl (2534492) | about 2 years ago | (#42629235)

I love that somebody's pursuing this. It seems strikingly elegant to consider ways that obscure pockets of nature has already solved these same problems, and room-temperature approaches not requiring exotic metals are almost surely a good thing.

Re:Well done (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42629731)

We've conquered nature, we will probably never master it...

Economy of scale? (1)

ATestR (1060586) | about 2 years ago | (#42629353)

That's an awful lot of sea snails needed to even construct a compact car...

Futurama (5, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#42629371)

"Inspired by the tough teeth of a marine snail and the remarkable process by which they form [...] and help develop abrasion-resistant materials that could be used for anything from specialized clothing to dental drills."

Thompson's Teeth. The only teeth stong enough to eat other teeth!

Other benefits? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 years ago | (#42629383)

improve the performance of solar cells and lithium-ion batteries,

If it can keep them from catching fire, can't come soon enough for Boeing and their 787s.

Polyp-based spacecraft creation (4, Interesting)

rsborg (111459) | about 2 years ago | (#42629485)

Lots of sci-fi has the idea of "grown" spacecraft (references: Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn series, Dyson Trees, etc). Perhaps this would help us understand enough to move towards realistic spacecraft generation (build it in the environment in which it's going to operate it, and even better - have it build itself).

Re:Polyp-based spacecraft creation (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 2 years ago | (#42637099)

This sounds more like figuring out how to make an artificial pearl by studying how an oyster forms the natural ones.

Or, to continue the spaceship analogy, finding an animal that creates macro-scale molecules and extending the principles involved to manufacture Niven's General Products hull.

Can you have this ready in a couple of days? (1)

fredrated (639554) | about 2 years ago | (#42629503)

Boeing needs you now!

The material (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42629613)

It's Iron Oxide. Specifically a magnetite-based composite.

I don't understand why anyone would leave something like that out of the summary.

Re:The material (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#42630331)

It's Iron Oxide. Specifically a magnetite-based composite.

And I don't understand how precipitation of iron oxide followed by phase transformation etc can be applied to the silicon used in photovoltaics. It's not like the two (Fe and Si) have the same chemistry.

you insensiTive clod! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42629861)

~280MB MPEG of7 o7 may disturb other

Just follow the trail... (2)

servognome (738846) | about 2 years ago | (#42630065)

though development will occur at a snail's pace.

What, no cure for cancer? (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 2 years ago | (#42631485)

I really despise these "could lead to " claims. Usually, not a lot remains, a few years later, if anything at all. When you investigate, you invariably find one or more large egos and only rarely a large mind.

Re:What, no cure for cancer? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 2 years ago | (#42631581)

Yes, it's a cure for cancer. if a stake made of the new material is driven through the heart of a cancer patient, they will not die of cancer.

overhyped nano stuff (4, Informative)

Goldsmith (561202) | about 2 years ago | (#42631945)

What are these guys really doing? Are these materials even close to as good as "high performance" materials used in car and airplane frames? Are these coatings close to as hard and uniform as those used on drills? What is it about a study on millimeter scale crystallization that leads us to make these claims about macro scale properties?

Some of us in nanotechnology are scientifically comparing nanomaterials to their bulk counterparts. When we sit down and do measurements in realistic conditions, the kind of hyperbolic statements made here are a big problem. Think of it like the solid state physics version of the dot com bubble.

The work described here is good and it is important, but we shouldn't be projecting the results forward with such unfounded certainty.

Science fiction predicted this (1)

starfishsystems (834319) | about 2 years ago | (#42632191)

I find it charming that E.E. "Doc" Smith wrote about this very subject (designing advanced materials based on the study of microcrystalline properties found in natural organisms) in his science-fiction novel "Spacehounds of IPC".

In 1931.

The hardest metal known to man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42633317)

So they're replicating Dragonforce [fjcdn.com] ?
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