Jun 11, 2017 10:13 AM EDT
Oyster shells nacre are composite materials possessing strength and durability. Researchers are in fascination on how the nacre of oyster shells have the strength and resilience developed in its formation. The experiments emulating such properties led the engineers to formulate a process to emulate the mechanical features and further enhance the materials for advanced practical applications.
Engineers from the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science led by Professor of Chemical Engineering Sanat Kumar begins the structural alteration by changing the speed of crystallization of a polymer initially with a mixture of nanoparticles. The method allows the group to control the assembly of nanoparticles in structural formations at diverse length scale regimes. The multilayering of these oyster shell nacre inspired materials can make stronger products yet retaining its lightweight and deformability properties.
The results of the oyster shell nacre inspired material is a publication on the online Journal ACS Central Science, dating June 7, 2017. An expert in self-assembly and polymer dynamics, Kumar aims to apply the new material to everyday needs like automobiles, packaging, or protective coatings. Larger applications such as structural formations of buildings are applicable but the material should be monitored in situ, reports Science Daily.
75 percent of polyethylene for packaging and polypropylene for bottles use commercial polymers which are semicrystalline. These materials have lower mechanical properties and therefore are not applicable for targeted products like automobile fittings such as tires, fan belts, bumpers among other car parts. Early nanoparticle applications had seen its usage in the mixtures of polymer, metal and ceramic bases as it improves material properties, reports Columbia Engineering.
A specific natural example is the oyster shell nacre in reference to polymers, which is 95 percent inorganic aragonite and 5 percent crystalline polymers. The composite held together by nanoparticles polymers increase the strength and durability of the material.
The new developed composite materials from oyster shell inspired material will pave the way to biodegradable products in use for car parts and other engineered items that require toughness and strength yet can be formed and ductile. Kumar's team states that the newly developed material will have an impact on the approach of how composites will be built in the future.
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