Formula one cars of the future could potentially be made from structures that mimic limpet teeth says Professor Barber, the lead researcher of a team from the University of Portsmouth.
Published in the Royal Society journal Interface, the research group revealed limpet teeth to be the strongest biological material ever tested, a title previously held by spider spun silk.
The strength is so great it is hard to comprehend, but Professor Barber has likened it to the feat to a piece of spaghetti enduring the force of 3000 bags of sugar.
The tongue of the limpets is covered with teeth, allowing the gastropod to crawl, burrow and even consume rocks. Other researchers also previously identified that the limpet leaves a “home base” – a self-created crater assisted by the strong teeth – which it returns to it at night after the daily pursuit of food.
The teeth were found to contain a hard material known as goethite.
Another interesting property of the teeth was that their strength was irrespective of their size, which is an unusual feature as typically bigger structures have more flaws and therefore break more easily.
As Professor Barber points out, nature is “a wonderful source of inspiration for structures that have excellent mechanical properties’ this is because they have evolved to be ‘highly effective.”
“Engineers are always on the lookout for new structures that can improve performance or that are lighter. This discovery means that the fibrous structures found in limpet teeth could be mimicked and potentially used in structures such as the hulls of boats and aircraft structures as well as formula one cars.”