Sea Cucumber Inspires Nano-Material

By | March 10, 2008

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.

material.jpgThis “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.”

Source: Discovery via Spluch

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