Strongest Known Material of Life Is a Limpet’s Tooth

Understanding the mechanics of limpet teeth could help engineers make their products sturdier — a process called “bioinspiration.”

By Published on February 18, 2015

It’s as strong as steel and tough as a bulletproof vest, capable of withstanding the same amount of pressure it takes to turn carbon into a diamond. Scientists have discovered nature’s newest, strongest material, and it comes from … a sea snail.

All hail the mighty mollusk.

In a study set to come out this month in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, British researchers announced that the teeth of shelled, aquatic creatures called limpets are the strongest biological material on Earth, overtaking the previous record-holder, spider silk.

The teeth, which are so small they must be examined with a microscope, are composed of very thin, tightly-packed fibers containing a hard mineral called goethite. Limpets use them to scrape food off of rocks, but lead author Asa Barber said humans can adapt the technology to build better planes, boats and dental fillings.

Read the article “Strongest Known Material of Life Is a Limpet’s Tooth” on washingtonpost.com.

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